England have ended a run of six straight defeats after beating South Africa 25-10 in the final game of the test series in Cape Town.
In a try-less first half, two penalties from the boot of Owen Farrell saw the tourists go into the break with a 6-3 lead.
A Jessie Kriel try soon into the second half saw the Springboks go ahead, but Farrell ensured the scoreboard kept ticking in England’s favour.
Jonny May went over in the corner after a superb Danny Cipriani cross-field kick to give England their first and only try in the match.
The game was played in very wet conditions but it was a much-improved performance from the tourists, who were able to grind out a deserved victory with Owen Farrell slotting home late on to make the final score 25-10.
The Springboks wrapped up a series win after their victory in Johannesburg but England will return home feeling slightly more upbeat after today’s display.
Here is how I rated the England team…
Elliot Daly - 6
Decent game, great hands in his link up play but struggled with his decision making at times. Missing touch for a penalty wasn’t a highlight, but can only improve at 15 as he is such a talent.
Mike Brown - 8
Great game. Makes metres all the time from slivering through opposition players. Defensively worked very hard and his positioning was much improved, was safe under the high-ball. Wore his heart on his sleeve and has looked very good again for England. Made a couple of handling errors but only as a result of the wet ball.
Henry Slade - 6
Some good tackling has been Slade’s big contribution to this tour, but being limited in his chances with ball going forward and some very poor positioning in defence has seen him struggle. He will need some more outstanding performances for Exeter in the new season if he wants another opportunity.
Owen Farrell - 8
Didn’t do a lot wrong. Faultless from the boot and seemed fairly creative outside of Cipriani even in these tough conditions and limited ball going through the hands.
Jonny May - 9
Such a confident display again by May, backs himself and his pace better than anyone in the England squad and used it to the best of his ability both in attack and defence. Involved such much throughout, and didn’t make any bad decisions. Great awareness to get on the end of Cipriani’s kick for his try. Man of the match and possibly the tour for England. Improved a lot.
Danny Cipriani - 7
The conditions made it hard for Cipriani to get much ball and had a fairly quiet afternoon, but his masterclass on the boot to set up May’s try was top-draw and exactly the sort of reason why he was picked. Few errors but all purely from the wet ball and surface. Solid game.
Ben Youngs - 6
Box kicking was so much better than it has been for much of the series but again some dodgy decisions, didn’t give much ball to Cipriani and it wasn’t the weather for some of his pick-and-go’s.
Joe Marler - 8.5
You could tell what it meant to Marler to be back starting for his country from his physicality and raw emotion. He put in some fantastic work in the scrum today and his work rate in both defence and attack was brilliant. He isn’t as consistently reliable as Mako Vunipola, but nonetheless is a top player. His final shove late on to win England a penalty was a great finish for him.
Jamie George - 6.5
Despite a couple of shaky throws, the lineout was generally much improved and made a few carries. Didn’t really stand out.
Kyle Sinckler - 8
Carried very well, probably made as many metres as he has throughout the entire tour in the first half today. Handling was great, scrum was solid. Great game.
Joe Launchbury - 6.5
Tackled his heart out as usual but didn’t get to see much of him, other than the usual solid display at the lineout.
Maro Itoje - 6.5
Great steals in the lineout and great work rate and aggression for the big man. But he does give away a fair amount of penalties, so just needs to watch his discipline.
Chris Robshaw - 7.5
His technique at the breakdown is so good and just goes about his business on the pitch quietly, working so hard for the team.
Tom Curry - 7.5
Not England’s greatest trip to South Africa but what a tour for this young talent. He was everywhere on the park today, so impressive in his clearouts, has good handling skills and as usual was making the turnovers for his team.
Nathan Hughes - 5
Generally solid, some good defence tackles but for such a big lad he never seemed to make any metres in his carries and at times looked uninterested. Getting sat down by little Faf De Klerk wouldn’t have been nice for him.
Replacements - 6
Only Williams, Wilson and Solomona were used today, and were relatively effective but didn’t make a great deal of impact to the game. Williams was solid coming on the Sinckler and England remained dominant in the scrum.