South Africa: 36 - England: a big fat zero
I set my alarm early to watch South Africa and England clash in this much hyped world cup pool match. I really thought England were going to surprise everyone and at least be competitive. It wasn't to be. Key points I gleaned through my bleary eyed state were:
Andy Farrell must be the biggest white elephant that a backline could possess. I certainly can't fathom how he was ever considered one of the world's best league players. I never saw him play league but watching him run sideways, hospital passing whenever he touched the ball, or kicking so incredibly poorly surely proves once and for all, he should never have made the switch.
As for England's forwards. How could they fall so far from grace in just four years. What have they been playing at in training? Drinking games? At this level, it is hard to believe a professional sports team could be so unfit and so slow to the breakdown. There was never any support if on the rare occasion an English player broke the mould and tried to run in a straight line. They made it easy for the fit and firing South African loosies to turnover ball at will.
As for the South Africans. They looked sharp and hungry. A frightening prospect. All signs point to the fact they are peaking perfectly and I can't imagine this Bok outfit not making the final. Bryan Habana has come back from injury and is playing like a man possessed. The SA backline which throughout the Tri Nations lacked imagination and variety has sparked into life. They still don't seem to be able to score tries off set piece phases, preferring instead to scavenge off the opposition's mistakes. But with Eddie Jones helping out old Jake White, they are definitely beginning to bring more flair into that area of play.
The only saving grace for England? Jason Robinson. He played his heart out and devastating it must have been for the thousands of English supporters when his hamstring pulled up short on what would have been a straight run to the Springbok line. Heartbreaking for England. But bloody embarrassing too.