Heartache for England as South Africa ease to final success

In pictures: England agony as South Africa win Rugby World Cup

England were stunned by South Africa's relentless intensity as their World Cup quest ended with a crushing 32-12 defeat in the final at International Stadium Yokohama.

A tense arm wrestle delivered its critical moment in the 66th minute when Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am combined brilliantly down the left wing for the first of the Springboks' two tries.

England's defence was unlocked by the speed and accuracy of a move that saw Mapimpi cross to become the first Springbok to score a try in a World Cup final, although there was also a hint of a forward pass.

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Rugby World Cup: England v South Africa
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Rugby World Cup: England v South Africa
England fans are dejected following the Rugby World Cup Final at Sale Rugby Club, Sale. (Photo by Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images)
England fans watch the Rugby World Cup final screening at Old Albanian RFC, The Woollam Playing Fields, St Albans.
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Maro Itoje of England reacts at as Pieter-Steph du Toit of South Africa celebrates at full-time following the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
South Africa's wing Cheslin Kolbe scores a try during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa celebrates with Faf de Klerk and Lukhanyo Am of South Africa after scoring his team's first try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02:Billy Vunipola and Henry Slade of England embrace after defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
England fans watching the Rugby World Cup Final at The Sussex Arms in Twickenham. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images)
South Africa's scrum-half Faf de Klerk (L) tackles England's wing Anthony Watson during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Fans of South Africa watch the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa, at International Stadium Yokohama, Japan, at the at the Loftus Park fan zone on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Manu Tuilangi of England is tackled by Malcom Marx and Franco Mostert of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
South Africa's centre Lukhanyo Am (R) reaches for the ball beside England's scrum-half Ben Youngs during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Young England fans watch the Rugby World Cup final screening at Harpenden Rugby Club, St Albans. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
England fans watch the Rugby World Cup final screening at Old Albanian RFC, The Woollam Playing Fields, St Albans. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Elliot Daly of England is tackled by Cheslin Kolbe and Frans Steyn of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Elliot Daly of England is tackled by Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
England's wing Jonny May (top) is tackled by South Africa's hooker Bongi Mbonambi (C) during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Courtney Lawes of England during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
England fans celebrate as Owen Farrell kicks a penalty during the 2019 Rugby World Cup final match at Yokohama Stadium.
Young England fans watch the Rugby World Cup final screening at Harpenden Rugby Club, St Albans.
England fans sport Tom Curry face masks at Crewe and Nantwich RFC, Nantwich.
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Tom Curry of England is congratulated by team mates during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Duane Vermeulen checks on Willie Le Roux of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
England's players receive medals after losing the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Duane Vermeulen checks on Willie Le Roux of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Richard Heathcote - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Owen Farrell of England speaks to referee Jerome Garces during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw transports the Web Ellis Cup to the trophy ceremony following the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Cheslin Kolbe of South Africa walks past the England team after scoring his team's second try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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And with Eddie Jones' men forcing their attack in desperate pursuit of an unlikely comeback win, wing Cheslin Kolbe switched on the afterburners to deliver the knockout punch with six minutes remaining.

The victory maintains South Africa's 100 per cent record in finals and enables Siya Kolisi's team to join the famed Springboks of 1995 and 2007.

After flying out of the blocks against New Zealand a week earlier, England were ambushed by South Africa's instant ferocity and never truly recovered.

Seeing prop Kyle Sinckler knocked out inside three minutes and unable to return was a savage setback – but it was only the beginning of their problems as panic swept through Red Rose ranks.

Nowhere was the vulnerability more evident than at the scrum where Tendai Mtawarira tormented Sinckler's replacement Dan Cole to win a series of penalties that placed South Africa in full command.

England v South Africa - 2019 Rugby World Cup - Final - Yokohama Stadium
England's Kyle Sinckler was an early casualty (Adam Davy/PA)

In recognition of the set-piece decimation, George Kruis was summoned into the second row to add ballast and while that made no difference, the arrival of Joe Marler brought a form of parity.

The damage had been done, however, and despite the valiant efforts of the Vunipola brothers, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Maro Itoje, England eventually fell apart as the heroics on display against the All Blacks became a distant memory.

South Africa had a laser-guided kicker in Handre Pollard to capitalise fully on the set-piece control, while Owen Farrell landed four penalties for the pre-match favourites, who have now lost in the final on three occasions.

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