Alex Corbisiero: 7
A strong showing from the loosehead as he got the better of the Springboks in the scrum. There were a couple of questionable decisions, but if he can get himself on the right side of them there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be praised. An increasingly important figure in the wake of Marler’s failings last weekend.
Tom Youngs: 5
After a 100% record coming into the game his lineout finally fell apart. He wasn’t completely at fault though; he was unfortunate that the South Africans did their homework and figured out he was mainly going to the front, forcing him into longer throws that were consequently called not straight. Still a nuisance in the loose and continues to show good physicality.
Dan Cole: 6
Fronted up well in the scrum, as always, but was fairly anonymous in the loose. Ball carrying is an area he perhaps needs to work on, but was again a nuisance at the breakdown where he is technically excellent.
Geoff Parling: 8
The lineout may have wobbled but his performance in the loose was so good that he must have been a candidate for MOTM. Consistently broke tackles, showing what can happen when you run at space rather than tacklers. Confounded his critics in the scrum, too, where England were more than solid.
Joe Launchbury: 8
A fantastic performance from the young man on his first start, and England seem to have found a well-balanced second row partnership. After a performance that was as much about physicality as it was work rate, Launchbury looks to have a bright future in an England shirt.
Tom Wood: 7
Added a much-needed bite up front and refused to be intimidated by what is a giant Springbok back-row. Carried well and put in his tackles, pretty much all you can ask of a blindside flanker.
Chris Robshaw: 5
The debate will go on, but he got it wrong. Two wrong decisions in two weeks does not bode well for a man who seemed nailed on as long-term captain. With 2 minutes to go and 4 points needed to draw, let alone win, the decision to go for the posts was baffling. Not good to see him being openly questioned on the pitch by Farrell, either.
Ben Morgan: 6
A mixed afternoon that included some good breaks, a massive knock-on, and some running up blind allies. Showed intelligent footballing awareness to keep his foot in touch when taking one restart, and looked set to do it again only for Mo Botha to get in his way. Just about justified his inclusion ahead of Waldrom.
Ben Youngs: 7
Another to have a mixed afternoon, Youngs’ reputation was probably more enhanced than damaged. A couple of sniping runs kept the defence on their toes, and one clever inside ball orchestrated some space for Goode to run into. His box-kicking was largely good; he has done enough to keep Care on the bench for another week.
Toby Flood: 4
Not his finest afternoon in an England shirt. A couple of missed penalties, one that was regulation, along with some wayward kicking from hand contributed to an altogether sub-par performance. Having said that, after being forced off with injury, his replacement, Farrell, was no better. Flood is a doubt for the All Blacks next week – Freddie Burns anyone?
Mike Brown: 7
Certainly justified his selection on the wing with some towering takes from the aerial bombardment he received. He also ran the ball back with enthusiasm, making a notable break in the first few minutes. Will be interesting to see whether he remains there for what is likely to be a different type of match against the All Blacks next week.
Brad Barritt: 5
Starting to look too one-dimensional for international rugby. Will tackle his heart out all day, but all too often he gets the ball and puts his head down without the thought of offloading. England need a distributing 12 who can get Tuilagi more into the game – Twelvetrees must be given time to develop but he looks like the long term successor here.
Manu Tuilagi: 6
A clever interception and one strong break masked a quiet afternoon for Tuilagi. It wasn’t his fault though, England just need to find a way to use his undoubted talent better, and more often, as the Tigers do week-in week-out.
Chris Ashton: 5
England’s golden boy is looking alarmingly out of sorts. He did well to catch up with Tuilagi after his interception, but other than that there wasn’t much to shout about for Ashton. Tried hard to get involved, but often took the ball off the scrum-half and went backwards in contact. He needs to hold his depth better and run at space off the fly-half more.
Alex Goode: 6
A more quiet afternoon from Goode, but he is yet to look out of place on the international field. One scything break in the first half was particularly impressive, as he showed impressive pace to get away from the scrambling defenders. Marshalled the space at the back well, especially with a makeshift winger on one side.
Lancaster’s persistence with Farrell, which once looked admirable, is starting to look misplaced. He brings nothing off the bench that Flood can’t do himself, and is certainly less threatening in attack – you only have to look at some of his passes this weekend. It is time for a punt on Freddie Burns. Other than that Vunipola was notable for his efforts in the ball-carrying department, and Care was as full of energy as ever. Sadly though, nobody succeeded in changing the game.
Apologies that there were no Rate the Match articles on which to vent frustration over the weekend, but feel free to share your thoughts on the game here.