Following a 25-10 victory for England over South Africa in their series finale, here are our five takeaways from the match in Cape Town.
Weather ruins Danny Cipriani’s chance to impress: There wasn’t really much Eddie Jones would have learned from the fly-half’s capabilities at Test level with the wet conditions preventing an expansive game. There was one neat touch in the first half and an excellent grubber kick through for Jonny May’s score after the break, while he was pretty solid defensively – a criticism levelled at him in the past – but ultimately there was little chance for Cipriani to display his ability in attack. Jones should persist with him in the November series, however, providing the fly-half is fit and firing for Gloucester in the Premiership.
Jonny May and Tom Curry produce the goods: There were some very good England performances in this encounter but, throughout the series, these two have been the Red Rose’s best. Curry has consistently been the visitors’ outstanding forward but he stepped it up another level at Newlands while May was excellent in difficult conditions. He scored the match-clinching try, was a constant threat down the right wing and was defensively assured, helping Eddie Jones’ men out of a couple of difficult situations.
South African kicking game off colour: As well as their physical superiority in the opening two Tests, the hosts have also found ascendency in the kicking game, but they struggled here. With Willie le Roux and Handre Pollard starting on the bench, their replacements, Warrick Gelant and Elton Jantjies, made a number of errors. In particular, Jantjies had a shocker and, although Gelant created Jesse Kriel’s try with a neat grubber, the full-back will have better days.
Pressure slightly relieved on Eddie Jones: The talk of sacking the Australian has been ridiculous but there is no doubt that England, under his guidance, have been pretty rudderless over the previous few matches. This is a step in the right direction, however, with the Red Rose muscling up and competing far better in the physical exchanges. Discipline was also improved with Maro Itoje, Chris Robshaw, Joe Marler and the superb Curry showing up well in the tight. It is certainly something to build on heading into the November games.
South Africa’s best XV set in stone: Rassie Erasmus gave opportunities to a number of different players but most of them were substandard. Like Danny Cipriani, the conditions played a part but they failed to impose themselves on the game. We’ve already talked about Jantjies and Gelant, who were poor, but Jesse Kriel butchered an opportunity when he had a simple two-on-one and Chiliboy Ralepelle gave away a couple of needless penalties. There is talent beyond the first XV but their ‘weakened’ teams were disappointing in Cape Town and against Wales earlier in the month.