George Ford is at a loss to explain England’s inability to make a meaningful contest of Saturday’s World Cup final rout by South Africa.
A 32-12 defeat in Yokohama ended Japan 2019 in the most deflating way possible as Eddie Jones’ men failed to show up for a match they were expected to win comfortably.
The Springboks savaged passive opponents who barely fired a shot, their mastery up-front matched by two brilliantly taken tries finished by wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe.
After the spectacular demolition of New Zealand in the semi-finals, English optimism was cruelly punctured and Ford echoed Jones’ admission that the reasons are baffling.
“South Africa were the better team on the day by a good distance. It’s massively disappointing,” Ford said.
“We can’t put our finger on why but sometimes you have days like that when you’re not good enough.
“The thing with cup finals is it’s on the day. You get to a final and you’re not guaranteed anything, all it was was an opportunity.
“And we were not good enough today to finish it off. But we’ll stick together and we’ll move on.
“It’s hard to say anything to make anyone feel better. We’ve massively enjoyed our time together, we’ve become closer as a group and played some good rugby along the way.”
England flattened New Zealand during a lightening-fast start but against South Africa they were on the receiving end of the same treatment and never recovered as the Springboks became the first team to lose a World Cup game yet lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.
“We were inaccurate in first 20 minutes and couldn’t get a foothold in the game in any sense,” Ford said.
“They kept putting pressure on us and managed to get points on the board. Against a team like South Africa, it’s always hard to chase.
“Physicality and accuracy are probably two things you need to get together to get a fast start. I thought they had both of them and we probably lacked some accuracy.
“We need to absorb what they were throwing at us and then to try and throw a few punches ourselves. We just weren’t good enough to do that.”
Kyle Sinckler’s third-minute collision with Mapimpi and Maro Itoje saw him knocked out, ending his match, and his replacement Dan Cole suffered gravely at the scrum.
“You never like to see an injury like Kyle’s. Speaking to him, he didn’t have a clue what had gone on,” Ford said.
“Two minutes in you’ve got to deal with these things and it was quite a long stoppage.
“We had to make sure we were in the right frame of mind to come out the other end of that. But fair play to South Africa, they executed their game plan brilliantly.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
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