England’s tour of South Africa came to its conclusion earlier today, as the visitors salvaged pride with an impressive and disciplined 25-10 win at Newlands in Cape Town.
The conditions were different to the ones England experienced in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, with rain sheeting down ahead of the kick-off and a slippery surface, but they handled them well and sent their fans into the offseason with a much-needed performance and result.
We have run the rule over the players involved.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) June 23, 2018
- Elliot Daly – 6
Not the best series Daly will have, with his struggles kicking from hand continuing to plague him in the third Test. He did, however, continue to impress as a link man in attack, popping up as the option to draw defenders in the wider channels and unleash the wings, putting them into one-on-one situations with Warrick Gelant.
- Jonny May – 8
Another class showing from England’s man of the series, in a game with conditions which wings had no right to shine in. His positioning, tackling, work under the high ball and footwork were all excellent on a wet day at Newlands, whilst he also proved the most effective of England’s chasers, constantly harassing the Springboks. Richly deserved his late try.
- Henry Slade – 5
Not the kind of game to get the best out of Slade, with England picking and choosing their moments to go wide, rather than risk handling errors. He was brushed off in a couple of tackles by the Boks, one of which led to Jesse Kriel’s try a phase later, when there was no sweeper present and South Africa were able to kick in behind.
- Owen Farrell – 7
Not a vintage Farrell performance but he kicked well at goal, making all seven of his kicks, and it was as a captain where he looked most impressive. Where Farrell had joined in the handbags between the two teams in the previous two matches, this week he was calming down his players and assuming the role of captain, rather than just star player. Some early signs of chemistry between he and Danny Cipriani, too.
- Mike Brown – 7
Rotated well with Daly, often moving into full-back for defensive situations, and proceeded to shut down multiple Springbok attacks with good one-on-one defence. Showed his power as a carrier, too, when receiving the ball in a limited amount of space on the left wing.
- Danny Cipriani – 7
Went well, albeit quietly, for the first 60 minutes and played the conditions smartly. Linked well with Farrell and the two interchanged effectively, as well as offering playmaking options at different depths in the back line. Pulled off a moment of magic with his kick – whilst under significant pressure – to send May in for a try.
- Ben Youngs – 6
Youngs’ kicking game was valuable to England, particularly given the conditions, but there were a couple of times he delayed too long to get the ball out of the breakdown and an outnumbered England were counter-rucked and subsequently conceded possession. Ultimately managed the game well, though, and successfully marshalled his pack around the Newlands turf.
- Joe Marler – 8
The loosehead dealt well with some of the questionable angles that were being thrown at him by South African tighthead Frans Malherbe. In addition to strong scrummaging, he also popped up with impact at the breakdown, forcing a couple of turnovers out of the Springboks and helping deliver relatively quick ball for England.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) June 23, 2018
- Jamie George – 6
Having put in a cleaner performance in the second Test with his throwing and his discipline in the breakdown when compared to the series opener, the testing conditions in Cape Town pegged him back. He missed four of his 13 lineouts, albeit two of those four were scrambled back by England in the ensuing melee.
- Kyle Sinckler – 7
Surprisingly, we had to wait until the wettest and worst conditions of the series to see Sinckler’s ability in the loose. Showcased his soft hands as a playmaker on the gain-line and proved effective as a carrier close to the rucks. Scrummaged well and though he conceded one breakdown penalty for going off his feet, even that was a 50/50 call and certainly impacted by the conditions.
- Joe Launchbury – 6
Showed his value on the wet surface at Newlands, cleaning up some scrappy ball and proving a reliable target for George at the lineout. He was busy in the loose, too, with his performance ranging from the low of isolating himself as a carrier and conceding the ball to the Boks, to the highs of getting his hands in the South African maul and forcing a turnover.
- Maro Itoje – 6
Another solid, if unspectacular performance from Itoje, who claimed five lineouts, as well as managing to steal a Springbok lineout. A cleaner performance in terms of discipline, too, with an early drive at a defensive lineout his sole infringement. Fronted up with some big tackles on the gain-line against South Africa’s power carriers.
- Chris Robshaw – 7
The week off seemed to do the world of good for Robshaw, who looked much fresher at Newlands. Not only was he busier around the field, but the tackles on the gain-line, where he was losing the collisions during his recent starts for England, he was winning in Cape Town. Popped up with a couple of steals at the breakdown, too, dovetailing well with Tom Curry.
- Tom Curry – 8
Another strong outing from the openside, who was a pest to South African ball-security throughout, stealing ball at the breakdown and by holding up Springbok carriers and forcing mauls. He was also quickly away from the scrums, scything down carriers like Duane Vermeulen and Faf de Klerk for little to no gain.
- Nathan Hughes – 5
Struggled to impact the game in the way in which he usually does for Wasps, with the N8 driven backwards in the tackle multiple times, most notably so by de Klerk when Hughes picked and went from the base of the scrum. In Hughes’ defence, he is coming off the back of a lengthy injury layoff and is clearly short of fitness and form, but it was certainly a day to forget in Cape Town.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie – n/a
- Alec Hepburn – n/a
- Harry Williams – 6
Came on early in the second half in an attempt to counter the scrummaging of Steven Kitshoff. Kitshoff looked to have the upper hand in the few engagements they had, but Williams did win a penalty out of the South African for his angle at their third and final scrummaging confrontation.
- Jonny Hill – n/a
- Mark Wilson – 6
Impact off the bench, including charging down an Elton Jantjies kick and winning England possession back deep in South African territory.
- Sam Simmonds – n/a
- Ben Spencer – n/a
- Denny Solomona – n/a
Did come on, but in the 77th minute, with no opportunity to affect the game.
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