England 27-26 South Africa: autumn international player ratings

Henry Slade produced a man-of-the-match performance but it was a tough afternoon for Jonny May


15 Freddie Steward Another try to cap impressive autumn. Showed a bit of vulnerability under high ball but not at the end. 7

14 Joe Marchant Was shifted back to regular midfield position and made the telling break for Quirke’s try. An excellent all-round showing. 8

13 Henry Slade Lovely pass to Tuilagi for try and released Marchant for Quirke’s. Had the courage to take matters into his own hands late on. 9

12 Manu Tuilagi Was not going to be stopped for the opening try but injured himself in the process. Such a shame. 6

11 Jonny May Bit of a stinker all told. Beaten by Kriel early on before two knock-ons – the first of which will give him nightmares. 5

10 Marcus Smith Lives for moments like this and, when he is required to produce, he delivers. Ice running through his veins in final five minutes. 8

9 Ben Youngs Has had a solid campaign but Smith wants quick, accurate ball to thrive and he was not able to give it to him often enough. 6

1 Bevan Rodd Levelled by Nché but kept plugging away after a fearless start at scrum time. His emergence is a big plus. 7

2 Jamie Blamire Part of “Fight Club” in training this week and will be talking about this performance for a while. Rose to the challenge. 7

3 Kyle Sinckler Relished responsibility as England’s most experienced front-row early on but gave away four penalties. 5

4 Maro Itoje Produced another trademark rip on Am but South Africa’s second-row pairing did a good job keeping him under wraps. 8

5 Jonny Hill Another match with a few eye-catching moments but still has a bit to do before he entirely convinces at this level. 6

6 Courtney Lawes (capt) Led by example. Like most of his teammates his discipline was not flawless but credit him for keeping England in the fight. 7

England’s Courtney Lawes and South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth battle for a lineout.
England’s Courtney Lawes and South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth battle for a lineout. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Observer

7 Sam Underhill Caught the eye with dextrous scooped pass. One of several England forwards who struggled with referee’s breakdown interpretation. 6

8 Tom Curry A typically all-action display against South Africa with some big hits, some turnovers won and some penalties conceded. 8


Nic Dolly (for Blamire 60) 6; Joe Marler (for Rodd 48) 7; Will Stuart (for Sinckler 56) Shown a yellow card 5; Charlie Ewels (for Hill 60) Lucky to escape yellow 6; Sam Simmonds (for Lawes 73) n/a; Alex Dombrandt (for Underhill 55) n/a; Raffi Quirke (for Youngs 49) 6; Max Malins (for Tuilagi 8) Underused this autumn 8.

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux One or two aerial wobbles but joins the line when South Africa get on the front foot so well. Shocking pass when well placed on the right though. 7

14 Jesse Kriel A positive start, claiming the first high kick of the day, but was on the periphery for large parts. 5

13 Lukhanyo Am At times it was easy to see why South Africans feel he should have been nominated for world player of the year. 7

Siya Kolisi of South Africa is yellow carded for a tackle on Joe Marchant of England.
Siya Kolisi is sent to the sin-bin. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Observer

12 Damian de Allende Ran over Slade in first half and produced delightful offload after a break in the second. A classy operator. 8

11 Makazole Mapimpi South Africa looked to get him clear throughout and finally they managed it, the wing scoring their only try. 7

10 Handré Pollard His kicking kept South Africa in touch in first half but missed a couple early in the second. Brings a calming presence. 6

9 Cobus Reinach Could not produce the kind of fireworks Northampton fans had come to expect but was not really the type of match for it. 5

1 Ox Nché Found Sinckler difficult to deal with in the early stages but stuck to task and produced a colossal hit on Rodd. 6

2 Bongi Mbonambi Had problems at lineout and was part of a front-row who came off second best before the Bomb Squad was called for. 4

3 Trevor Nyakane Got in the way at one restart and found himself a worthy adversary in Rodd. Couldn’t make presence felt. 5

4 Eben Etzebeth Another monumental battle with Itoje – reprising their rival from last summer – and grew in influence as the match evolved. 7

5 Lood de Jager Kept toiling away in the engine room, putting in the hard yards before making way for Mostert. Must be horrible to play against. 6

6 Siya Kolisi (capt) Couldn’t get back to stop Steward, couldn’t find Kriel for certain try but kept believing. Deserved his yellow card late on. 6

7 Kwagga Smith Almost scored at a crucial time when South Africa were on top but Malins denied him. Will be disappointed about that. 6

8 Duane Vermeulen Quiet at times but thumped Curry backwards and had hand in a key turnover late on. So influential when it matters. 7


Malcolm Marx (for Mbonambi 44) 8; Steven Kitshoff (for Nche 44) 7; Vincent Koch (for Nyakane 44) 7; Franco Mostert (for De Jager 64) 6; Jasper Wiese (for Smith 64) 6; Herschel Jantjies (for Reinach 67) n/a; Elton Jantjies (for Pollard 55) 6; Frans Steyn (for Le Roux 51) Nailed penalty but wasn’t to be 7.


Gerard Meagher at Twickenham

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