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Itoje: 'The Boks straightened us'

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'The Springboks straightened us' - Maro Itoje's take on England's loss

Maro Itoje has blamed England giving away too many penalties for their World Cup final defeat to South Africa. Beaten 32-12 on the scoreboard, England conceded ten penalties to South Africa’s eight during the loss in Yokohama. 

Five of those indiscretions came at the scrum and Springbok kicker Handre Pollard made England pay off the tee, as he landed six kicks over the course of the 80 minutes. “Probably need a bit more time to process everything, to be honest,” reflected Itoje when asked his thoughts on the result. “The thing that stuck out obviously was we gave away too many penalties.

We didn’t get our game going today, unfortunately, unlike the previous game (against New Zealand). We didn’t come out of the blocks firing like we planned to.”

It was Itoje’s accidental collision that knocked out Kyle Sinckler in the third minute, forcing England into the change that saw Dan Cole come on and struggle at the scrum.

“He [Sinckler] is a big player for us and he’s had some really big performances for us. I’m not too sure what it was. We just didn’t start with the tenacity we planned on starting with. At this point, it’s hard to put a finger on what exactly that is. Sport is cruel sometimes.

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“We’ve been on a good journey. From where we started to where we are now, the team’s grown tighter and tighter. This is the most fun I’ve had in an England side. We’re trying to draw the positives out of the journey.

“Very disappointed, gutted we couldn’t get the job done today. It’s meant a lot to a lot of people.  We can work hard for the next opportunity.

“Congratulations to the Springboks. They straightened us. They didn’t allow us to get our game going. We definitely did try hard but we weren’t getting the outcomes we were looking to get.

“I definitely felt we were in the right place. World Cup finals don’t happen too often. Throughout the whole weekend, we were pumped. Everyone was really excited for the opportunity.

“Each game throws up different challenges. Coming into this game we weren’t looking to match last week. We were looking to get better. That’s been the mantra of our team, the mantra of our squad.”

WATCH: RugbyPass catches up with some rowdy fans after South Africa lift the World Cup trophy

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'The Springboks straightened us' - Maro Itoje's take on England's loss