DYLAN JACK looks at where the World Cup final between South Africa and England in Yokohama on Saturday was won and lost.
It took just under 10 minutes for the Springbok pack to start imposing itself on their opponents. Admittedly, England were disrupted by the loss of Kyle Sinckler to a concussion, but this was a game where the Bok scrum well and truly imposed itself.
Beast Mtawarira and Frans Malherbe overpowered their opposite numbers. England replacement prop Dan Cole will have nightmares as he was sent backwards by Mtawarira at a rate of knots (well, almost).
When Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch came off the bench, they picked up where their teammates had left off. Other than one particular good England scrum in the second half, Eddie Jones’ pack did not have a game to remember.
Through their dominance, the Boks gave themselves an excellent attacking platform and robbed England of one to launch from. Essentially, the Bok pack did to England what England did to the All Blacks in their semi-final.
As expected, the Bok defence played its own part during the final. During the first half, Faf de Klerk showed the impact of the system by forcing opposite number Ben Youngs to throw a pass into touch when England had momentum.
That was a warning to England. The Bok defence once again did excellently when they were camped in their own 22 towards the end of the first half, but forced England backwards and only conceded three points. With the game in the balance, it was crucial that the Boks did not concede a try.
On the whole, the Springboks made 154 tackles to England’s 98, but only missed 14 for a 92% success rate. By comparison, England had a 89% success rate. It is on such slim margins that finals are decided.
It would be wrong to single out any one player in this regard as six Springboks made 10 tackles or more, with 13 finishing without missing a single tackle.
While the Springboks’ unwavering commitment to their gameplan has frustrated their fans, it more than paid dividends in the final.
Incredibly, of the 26 kicks from hand the Springboks made, 26 were regathered. It should be no surprise that once again the team that dominated the kicking and defence statistics came out on top.
Makazole Mapimpi, Willie le Roux and Cheslin Kolbe were all solid under the high ball and caused the England back three problems when attacking the aerial ball.
Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, who focuses on the Boks’ aerial skills, also deserves plenty of recognition for the strides the team has made in this regard.
Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images