‘Boks worse than expected’

What the English newspapers are saying after England’s 37-21 win against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

England ended their 10-year drought against the Springboks in style. The hosts scored four tries and were physically dominant for much of the contest. In the end, the scoreline flattered the Boks, who scored two late tries.

‘Boks bashed’, screams the headline on the front page of the sport section of ​The Sunday Times. Four of the big English papers have led their respective sport sections with a similar image: that of George Ford celebrating after scoring a crucial try at Twickenham on Saturday.

Respected writer Stephen Jones acknowledged the importance of the win for England in his piece. At the same time, he lamented the Boks’ performance.

‘We knew that South Africa would be dishevelled; we know all the savage problems under which they are operating. But we could not have expected them to be as poor as this.

‘Apart from the centres Damian de Allende and Francois Venter, they lacked class. Their lanky back row were dreadful – any examination of the superb play of Ben Youngs must be appended by the fact that Pieter-Steph du Toit on the flank was so immobile he resembled something from Madame Tussaud's.

‘To fall down in front of any opponent is not in their nature but few Springbok teams inferior to this one have have ever run out onto the Twickenham turf.’

As expected, Jones has not been kind to the Boks in his ratings. Apart from Vincent Koch and Adriaan Strauss, none of the Bok forwards have scored higher than five out of 10.

In the same paper, Stuart Barnes described the Bok defence as amorphous, and has taken aim at a lineout that refused to compete against an understrength England set piece.

‘South Africa, picking a terrifying quartet of lineout operators, barely got off the ground on England’s throw-in … if there was a hungry logic to the way England managed the breakdown, there was no sense in the South African plan to select giants and then stay out of the air.

‘England were good but not brilliant,’ writes Barnes. ‘South Africa, in contrast, were poor in many aspects and right now it takes a Panglossian optimism to see from where the improvement will come. This was a day for Youngs to remember and South Africa to forget.’

‘Roarsome!’ exclaims the headline on the backpage of the Mail on Sunday. Inside, Sir Clive Woodward agrees with England coach Eddie Jones’s assessment that while the team has progressed there is still work to do.

Woodward says Du Toit is ‘a fine young lock, but no back-row forward’ in reference to the player’s misses on Youngs over the course of the game. Woodward also wonders why the Boks did not contest the lineouts.

The Sunday Telegraph has run a small picture at the bottom of its front page of Owen Farrell scoring at Twickenham. ‘England’s glory: South Africa beaten at last’.

Ford is on the front of the Telegraph’s sport section under the headline, ‘Perfect 10?’. Inside, Steve James writes that a rusty England was still too good for the ‘bumbling Boks’, who failed to put up much of a fight on defence.

Sir Ian McGeechan believes that England had tactical clarity whereas South Africa were tactically confused.

‘England were helped by the Boks’ static defence in their first two channels. South Africa looked like they wanted to play a conservative game, and they did it well in the first 20 minutes. But they would pin England back, and then not compete for lineout ball. That made no sense.

‘Rudy Paige at scrumhalf also suggested that the Boks might be aiming for a quicker, wider game but it never materialised. They looked like a team who did not quite know how they wanted to play.’

Ford is featured on the front of The Observer’s sport section along with the bold headline: '10 out of 10', which refers to Ford’s position, the ending of a 10-year drought against the Boks, and the fact that England have now won 10 consecutive matches under Jones.

Inside this edition, Michael Aylwin writes of the Boks: ‘The would-be bullies were humbled by a Charlie Chaplin score.’ Indeed the buildup to England’s second try, which saw the Bok defence in disarray, was a comedy of errors.

‘This has been coming, and it is poetic that the match was broken, like South Africa, by another try that may sit well in the grainy footage of a Charlie Chaplin film. It was an absolute warthog of a try. And in the end, it was a match for South Africa. ‘

Post by

Jon Cardinelli