Well after a stunning 20 minutes, the England players clearly thought they had done the job over South Africa. But soon the Springboks had rallied and capitalised on England’s multiple errors to win an entertaining match 42-39, a winning margin which I had correctly predicted in my Preview post by I hadn’t expected the high-scoring affair. The majority of players played poorly in my opinion and need to be benched or replaced next game, so here are the ratings:
1 Mako Vunipola 5/10
Didn’t quite hit the heights of the Premiership final and struggled with altitude before getting yellow carded for a late shoulder hit on de Klerk which I’m not deducting that many marks before simply because most people would have done the exact same in his shoes.
2 Jamie George 4.5/10
Very surprised if he gets another meaningful chance after this tour, poor defence and again was very poor in the tight which for me is far more important than if he makes a big break every once in a while, and although the Saracen was reasonable at the set piece, it wasn’t significant enough to redeem him.
3 Kyle Sinckler 3/10
Sinckler looks very unfit, I don’t care about the altitude, Sinckler shouldn’t been on tour in the 1st place and it clearly showed with zero impact in the loose. I expect Sinckler to be on the bench next game where he makes more impact coming off the bench and there are fewer scrums.
4 Maro Itoje – 6/10
Poor tackle missed on Faf de Klerk which started a Springbok comeback but at least scored a powerful try over the top of the breakdown. Tried too hard to make an impact on the game and was easily outshone by the magnificent debutant RG Snyman.
5 Nick Isiekwe – 5/10
Interestingly subbed off before halftime for Brad Shields and unfairly in my opinion for he was making hard yards for England up to that point. Therefore I can’t rate him that high unfortunately and if Launchbury is fit then Isiekwe will be confined to the bench next Saturday in Bloemfontein.
6 Chris Robshaw – 5/10
Gave away penalties at the breakdown, nowhere near good enough in terms of ruck clear-outs and when he made any decent dents he was turned over or penalised for holding on. Personally, I hope that Shields starts over the Quins man next week but I doubt Jones has the balls to make that call.
7 Tom Curry – 7/10
While he didn’t exactly trouble the breakdown, Curry’s defence was impressive compared to the rest of his team and did run a wonderful line to make a deep break. I expect the Sale flanker to regain his shirt for next week’s test.
8 Billy Vunipola – 6/10
England couldn’t involve the man enough to inspire them to a victory. Hats off to him for lasting the game but we are yet to see Vunipola at his world-beating best. Let’s hope he lasts this tour without an injury because he is just so essential to England and Saracens at the moment.
9 Ben Youngs – 6/10
Injected rhythm and pace into his side’s attack in the opening quarter, but struggled when South Africa slowed the breakdown and was easily outclassed by Faf de Klerk, also struggled to make decent box kicks to relieve pressure.
10 George Ford – 6/10
At first, Ford was absolutely marvellous with one of his passes creating an early England try but can only do so much when the pack is on the back foot and was bounced off a couple of times by the South Africans.
11 Mike Brown – 7/10
Shouldn’t have played on the wing but at least put in a very good shift nonetheless, his finish for England’s 1st try was the best I’ve seen from Brown in a very long time, he actually made decent metres and he also won a turnover late in the game, one of England’s best players but I hope that he’s back in his best position next weekend.
12 Owen Farrell – 6/10
In terms of playing and kicking, Farrell did reasonably well but for his lack of galvanising a team he’s supposed to be captaining. Obviously he was at the end of a lovely constructed try but was quiet on the field
13 Henry Slade – 4/10
BT wax lyrical about the man but I just think that Slade doesn’t have what it takes to be an international quality player. Playing in a team who rarely loses it makes the Exeter centre looks better than he actually is. Very poor handling from a guy who we are used to seeing throwing audacious offloads and he missed more tackles than Ford.
14 Jonny May – 6/10
Scored a great last-minute try leaving everyone dead in his tracks and set up Elliot Daly for his try wonderfully with a great running line onto George Ford’s pop pass but also ran around like a headless chicken at one point and couldn’t get enough decent ball and space to threaten with later on apart from in the 77th minute.
15 Elliot Daly – 7/10
Oh my word, that penalty kick from 61 metres was out of this world. However, he did kick out on the full on one occasion and failed to gather a bouncing ball to let in Nkosi but apart from that Daly was solid at fullback and one of England’s better players as he scored a gorgeous try early on.
Jones should have emptied the bench sooner. Luke Cowan-Dickie made a huge impact and I hope he starts next week as he’s so much better than George when fit, especially in terms of ballcarrying, while his Chiefs teammate Harry Williams made a good impact too. Brad Shields came on quite early and failed to make a considerable impact but did provide a good pass for May to score, whilst Nathan Hughes beefed up the back row. Ben Spencer came on for his debut but it was too late for him to make a considerable impact, the same goes for Piers Francis and Denny Solomona. Joe Marler came on and proved that Ellis Genge should have been there instead.
Do you agree?
By Jacob Bassford