15. Mike Brown – 6
Whether he was injured with Jean de Villiers rampaging towards him is unclear, but the fact is Brown’s failed tackle attempt let the Springbok captain through for what was the winning try. That being said, he coped with the numerous high balls well.
14. Chris Ashton – 6
Another game where there was no questioning Ashton’s hunger but he failed to produce. Bryan Habana outshone down his wing. In big games such as these, England need him more than ever.
13. Manu Tuilagi – 7
His flattening by de Villiers aside, Tuilagi was on fine form, boshing his way through tacklers and putting in an excellent try-saving tackle on Spies.
12. Brad Barritt – 5
Defensively sharp but England need more than just a wall at inside centre. Barritt’s eye injury offers Stuart Lancaster the opportunity to experiment because they will not defeat the leading Southern Hemisphere nations by defence alone, as Saturday proved.
11. Ben Foden – 7
A very encouraging first cap on the wing. Was rarely troubled by JP Pietersen and made some crucial catches, whilst also finishing superbly in the corner with time almost up. Expected back at 15 for the 2nd Test with Brown injured.
10. Owen Farrell – 5
Same argument as Rhys Priestland in that whilst young and still developing, Farrell is unable to fully control matches just yet. Some horrible passes soured what was a strong kicking performance.
9. Ben Youngs – 5
Box kicked everything on offer at the start before electing to bring his backs into the game more. What England would have given for him to mimic Francois Hougaard’s lead with snipes around the fringes.
1. Joe Marler – 5
Frenetic start but disappeared as the game went on due to adjusting to the pace. Not terrible by any means but could have been better.
2. Dylan Hartley – 6
Rough afternoon against the great Bismarck but stood up and was counted. From the noises he’s been making since the final whistle he sounds incredibly eager for revenge in Joburg. Comfortably England’s best hooker.
3. Dan Cole – 6
Much like Hartley, not the easiest afternoon. Matched the Beast but England needed more from him in the loose going forward. Truth is he was often found constantly trying to thwart the Boks in defence.
4. Mouritz Botha – 6
The red scrum cap wasn’t it’s typical blur of activity around the park but the lineout ran well.
5. Geoff Parling – 5
Knocked back too often when on the charge. Lineout operated efficiently under his guidance but Kruger got to him.
6. Tom Johnson – 6
Wonderful first half an hour when he appeared unstoppable; huge tackles and the odd break making him catch the eye. But faded away much like Marler as the game went on, sucked in to making numerous tackles. Positive though.
7. Chris Robshaw – 7
A strong captain’s performance where Robshaw forced turnovers at the breakdown and led from the front. Arguably England’s MVP.
8. Ben Morgan – 5
One strong burst into the South African 22 reminded us what he can do, but where was he the rest of the time? Has to deliver consistently over 80 minutes, or at least the 60 he played in Durban.
Jonathan Joseph made such a promising impact in only three minutes that the calls have been ringing out for his inclusion to start in the 2nd Test. Barritt’s injury could make this happen, or Toby Flood could fill in with Farrell at 12, a combination that led to Foden’s try at the death in Durban. Flood and Joseph aside, there was little to shout about from the bench.
15. Zane Kirchner – 5, 14. JP Pietersen – 6, 13. Jean de Villiers – 9, 12. Frans Steyn – 7, 11. Bryan Habana – 8, 10. Morné Steyn – 7 , 9. Francois Hougaard – 7; 1. Tendai Mtawarira – 6, 2. Bismarck du Plessis – 8, 3. Jannie du Plessis – 7, 4. Eben Etzebeth – 6, 5. Juandré Kruger – 7, 6. Marcell Coetzee – 7, 7. Willem Alberts – 9, 8. Pierre Spies – 6
A mixed bag for the Boks, but de Villiers, Habana and Alberts were all exceptional. In fact, Alberts’ man of the match performance was a strong example of how good he can be on his day, with his form often rather inconsistent. Hougaard’s pace caused havoc in that crucial third quarter, whilst the trio of debutants worked well in the lineout, Coetzee in particular impressive.
by Ben Coles