Thoughts on the RWC Final
So I have watched the game twice over weekend and will probably do watch it again before the week is over, and I wholeheartedly agree with @Billy-Webb above.
Just a couple of thoughts:
1) The body language coming out of the tunnel was weird, some guys looked super geed up (Kolisi and Beast especially) while others had that 1000 yard stare. I was really worried the moment might be too great for some of these guys.
2) The early penalty against Lawes really helped. It was just such a blatant penalty that I think it helped Garces get over whatever nerves he might have had. Even though Pollard missed a kickable penalty, I think it helped the game that Garces could settle in to the game and we were able to avoid the referee freezing up like we have seen in other big games.
3) The play around Sinkler's injury was huge. It started with the first up and under being defused (big concern before the game) and then South Africa making two or three passes in the middle third of the pitch (something the team didn't do in games leading up to the final). Finally the break after two minutes settled some of the nerves I thought.
4) There was period in the middle of the first half where things could have gone very wrong for the team. It started with a missed kick to touch (which on replay was a dud call); our maul was disrupted by Cole thanks to very wide gate (twice I think); two tight forwards went down injured with the ref allowing play to continue very close Mbonambi while he was receiving treatment; and finally England smashing away for twenty odd phases.
With the game tied up at 6 all, I was having flashbacks to Twickenham 2018, Wellington 2019 and the pool game against New Zealand where South Africa dominated early doors but didn't convert domination into points.
5) THE moment of the game for me. SA goes up 9-6 off the back of our dominant scrum. Its three minutes to half time and England kicks deep from the kick off. South Africa recycles the ball a couple of time and get ready to box kick to close out the first half in England's half of the pitch. Luckily the ball comes out awkwardly and Faf shifts it out to the centres where Am makes a neat break, but runs out of support and chips, putting Daly under pressure. Daly knocks on, scrum penalty.
All of a sudden England are chasing the game. Even if they get a 7 pointer, we are still within penalty goal of retaking the lead.
6) In the third quarter nothing happens and this suits South Africa just fine. Pollard and Farrel trade penalties with the lead staying between 6 and 9 points. England are starting to try a couple more things but are just eaten up by fantastically organised defense and PSDT winning himself a world player of the year in the process.
7) In the final quarter England start feeling the pressure. The scoreboard suggests that they are still in the game at 12 points to 18 but it is slipping away from them. The scrum has settled down, but you just can't see England scoring a try to break it open and South Africa is starting to enjoy territorial dominance. Little cracks start to show in the English defense until Mapimpi and Am link up to score.
From there England start pushing even harder, but they are going nowhere and when Kolbe goes over from turnover to seal the game.
The game could easily have ended in blow out at this stage, with at least one more try nearly slipping through on Mapimpi's wing from cross kick taking an awful bounce.
8) I really wish they would do away with the silver medal ceremony. The guys clearly don't want to be there and they are on hiding to nothing. I am sure that in a couple of years the English players will reflect fondly on the tournament they had, but minutes after the final whistle is not the time for that.
It is completely understandable that they would just want go to the locker room and reflect in private on what must be a very disappointing night for them.