‘Boring England’ beaten at their own game

John Smit lifts the Web Ellis Cup

Against Australia and France, England showed the world how to close down a game and come out with a victory – the Springboks were watching and that’s exactly what they did to the former World Champions last night.

England’s strength in the quarter- and semi-final was at the set piece, where Andrew Sheridan ruled the scrums and Ben Kay lorded over the lineout.  Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha were the undisputed kings of this domain in the match that mattered most.

England lost seven lineouts and couldn’t steal a single one from the opposition, and they could not exert the same pressure at the scrum as in previous weeks.  Without that dominance, there was simply no way through the green and gold defence, led heroically by Juan Smith.

On the only occasion that it cracked, Mathew Tait went searing through midfield and Mark Cueto was put over in the corner only to be denied by the finest of margins – the evidence looked inconclusive, but the Australian television match official was never going to award the try to England, that everyone hates so much!

In fact, images in today’s paper showed that the decision was correct, but the non-try was undoubtedly the key moment.  John Smit gathered his troops behind his try line and gave a rallying call to arms – for the remainder of the game, England were running into brick walls, fortified by the Springbok hunger for the Cup which they were just moments from lifting.

It wasn’t a classic, but it was gripping, and will have sent a message to the southern hemisphere boo boys that dislike the defence-based gameplan so much.  Defences win World Cups, and Smith’s brutal band of Boks won it last night.

England return with their heads held high, having lifted themselves from the shameful abyss into which they fell a month ago, and their determination to restore pride can only be admired.  The curtain comes down on the greatest World Cup ever, and the countdown to New Zealand 2011 begins.

4 thoughts on “‘Boring England’ beaten at their own game

  1. And South Africa weren’t boring? They hardly made it past the English defence either, having visited our try line once, only to come away with nothing. Congrats to them, best team in the competition. Whether they were the better team in the final… I’m not as convinced.

  2. The title implies that South Africa were indeed boring, but as the All Blacks show us every time, you don’t win the World Cup by being a bunch of fancy dans!

  3. Well there ends another World Cup. A very sad night on Saturday, but all credit to the Boks as I have long admired both White and Smit and found it hard to understand the flak that both get from their fans and media. Painful though it was, losing to NZ would have been 10 times worse!

    Despite the Boks dominance at the set-piece it was annoying to lose by not that big a margin and to see stupid, pointless penalties in there like Moody’s. He seemed to have grown up for most of the tournament and then he does that to trip up Butch James who had no chance of retrieving the ball anyway.

    The Boks won fair and square though, and the TMO decision was agonising but right, and none of us can go blaming the officials for a defeat after we slated the Kiwis for doing just that only two weeks beforehand!

    A great World Cup with many highlights, and for me, discovering The Rugby Blog was up there with the best of them. Excellent work boys, you’ve enhanced my enjoyment of what was already a fascinating tournament and you’ll continue to be a central part of my daily rugby fix!

  4. Ahh, Lewis Moody, a fine player, but time and time again he’s shown that he has a heart where his brain should be.

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