England 27-26 South Africa: Young gun Marcus Smith boots Red Rose to last-gasp win as hosts avenge Rugby World Cup final

THE KING of Twickenham crowned the new England era by dethroning world champs South Africa.

Golden-boy Marcus Smith nailed the biggest kick of his life to shock the toughest, meanest and ugliest side in the world.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Kick. . . Boom.

World Cup revenge was sealed in dramatic fashion as Eddie Jones' side somehow hung on after their 2019 Japan heartbreak.

Leaking penalties for fun it all looked to be heading towards disaster again.

Yet up stepped fly-half sensation Smith to hammer home the breathtaking winner in the dying seconds to close the curtain on an undefeated autumn.

Pumped-up Jones said South Africa had disrespected their pack after the World Cup final.

And those mind games worked a dream in firing-up rookies Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire – who were both superb in the biggest games of their career.


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England didn't shy away from the beastly Springboks scrum and went straight for a fight in the front row from the off.

A free-kick and then a scrum got the Twickenham crowd roaring and when Tuilagi scored after Henry Slade's sweetest of passes the place went absolutely crazy.

It was ecstasy then agony for Tuilagi, though.

Sadly, fans are so used to seeing the 30-year-old trudge off the pitch for club and country with injury.

England shuffled the pack and with Max Malins on the pitch out wide and 'false no.14' Joe Marchant back in his natural territory of the centres they still looked class.

Another scrum penalty against the creaking Trevor Nyakane cranked-up the pressure on the Boks again but they came back into it after a couple of horror-phases from Jonny May.

Nemesis Handre Pollard, who could be off to Leicester Tigers to replace the out-going England exile George Ford, booted the first of his five penalties to close the gap.

While South Africa went route one England sprayed it about and superb Freddie Steward's second try in his fifth test was another thing of beauty.

Malins raced into the 22 as he beat Jesse Kriel.

And off another strong base Steward powered past three Boks from short-range to crash over.

Pollard was booed for chosing to go for posts as he kicked his second, third and fourth penalty.

The classy fly-half looked unstoppable from the tee, even though he resembled Bambi on ice when he tried to run it.

But England's penalty count kept going up and Kyle Sinckler got pinged at the breakdown and was marched back for backchat.

Polly then skewed a few dollies after the break as he missed the chance to swing the game well and truly in their favour.

Normal service resumed though to make it 17-15 as England started to look like they had run out of puff.

With 'The Bomb Squad' South Africa's famed and feared super-sub front row on, the scrum started to get a pounding.

Joe Marler had warmed-up for this one by sinking bottles of South African red wine during his Covid isolation.

However, he needed something a bit stronger after being crushed by Vincent Koch.

Mr Versatile Malins then chucked himself under the ball when Kwagga Smith was denied a try as under-fire England scrapped for their lives.

Their desperation cost them 15 penalties to South Africa's four and with those numbers the game was only going one way.

When another penalty came sub no.10 Elton Jantjies kicked the visitors into the lead for the first time in the 64th minute at 17-18.

It didn't last long, though.

Slade stuck Marchant through a gap and Raffi Quirke's support run saw the Sale Sharks sensation race home under the posts for Smith to convert.

The huge relief was quickly turned into panic though and Will Stuart was yellow-carded for persistent team offending.

That meant England had to struggle with a man down for the majority of the final 13 minutes.

So up stepped red-hot Makazole Mapimpi to score out wide and do yet more damage.

With just seven minutes to go, the Boks finally had a lead when Frans Steyn kicked a penalty as discipline issues continued to plague the hosts.

Then it was squeaky-clean rugby icon Siya Kolisi, the first black skipper to lift the World Cup, who saw yellow for his awful mid-air take out on Marchant.

Instead of opting to go for the three-point winner from inside their own half, England kicked to the corner, butchered the line out through sub Nic Dolly, got another chance, and wanted that, too.

They looked to have thrown it away.

But when England got another chance to kick with just in the dying seconds – after dirty Steyn got pinged for foul play on Smith – the poster-boy did the business to bring the house down.

Welcome to new England.


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