While most of the UK were winding their clocks back last week, Eddie Jones and co will have been winding back the years as their World Cup final opponents were confirmed – the SpringBok.
Indeed, the teams last locked horns in the 2007 final in Stade de France, where the Roses dream of clinching international glory died in a dour 15-6 defeat to Rassie Erasmus’s men.
Yet our England vs South Africa predictions are expecting an entirely different affair when the sides meet in Tokyo this Saturday.
In their fourth attempt at clinching the Webb Ellis Cup, our projections are wagering in the favour of the English, as we originally mentioned in our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions.
So, take a read of the forecast surrounding the final instalment of what has been a thrilling tournament…
England vs South Africa Predictions
All the pre-match predictions are very much in agreement that England will avenge their 2003 World Cup heartbreak against this Saturday’s opponents.
And nothing proves to be quite as much of a confidence boost ahead of the final than sinking the two-time reigning Rugby World Cup champions – New Zealand – along the way.
Indeed, last weekend’s semifinal performance resulted in exactly that through an inspired performance from Eddie Jones’ men in what will go down as one of the best displays in the history of the tournament against a giant of the sport.
From Maro Itoje’s determined defensive display (featuring three turnovers) to Manu Tuilagi’s attacking brilliance, the Kiwis found themselves at a crossroads, unable to adjust to England’s fast start.
And it wasn’t just the Roses attacking brilliance that shocked the AllBlacks, but also the manner in which they went about their task.
Speed was clearly the name of Jones’ tactical game – one that had England storming into the lead two minutes into the game via Tuilagi. And if that wasn’t blistering enough, Sam Underhill and Ben Youngs also made it onto the scoresheet – if it wasn’t for the television match officials intervention, those tries would’ve stood, and Steve Hansen’s side in danger of being pushed out of the proceedings in the first 40 minutes.
But the Kiwis did manage to score a try through Ardie Savea as the Roses showed flashes of the defensive dismay that plagued them early on in the tournament.
Such lapses in concentration could cost them against the SpringBok. But our England vs South Africa predictions aren’t forecasting any, given how the Roses have grown from strength to strength as the competition has progressed.
It’s exactly what Jones would’ve wanted – peaking at the end of the group stages, as the business end of the tournament commences.
Yet it seems Rassie Erasmus’ side have done the opposite, making them even more vulnerable to defeat in the final this Saturday.
Indeed, his team’s testing victory over the Welsh exposed chinks in the South African armour, one of them being possession skills.
With a minority share of 39% and 67 passes across the 80 minutes, the concept that the SpringBok played the game with guile and innovation doesn’t really stand. Instead, occasional attacking joy and stringent defending is a more apt description of the style of play that unfolded.
And kicking the first eight times they received the ball proved exactly that. But as the game developed so did their game plan.
Through Handre Pollard, South Africa were able to penalty-kick their way to a substantial lead. And the sheer number of tackles made meant that they won plenty of calls from the referee too.
So, what happens when England’s ferocious attacking lineup meets South Africa’s unwavering defensive formation?
Well, according to our projections, a wearing down of the SpringBok defence that will almost eventually lead to sweet victory for Jones’ men.
England vs South Africa Head To Head
The odds are as even as they can be ahead of this weekend’s clash in Tokyo – especially with Jones and Erasmus at the helm.
Indeed, when the two have managed this Saturday’s finalists, the last four fixtures have seen the victories shared.
In the summer of 2018, the SpringBok ran out as 42-39 winners, following up that particular win with a more closely-contested 23-12 victory.
And yet since, the points have pooled Jones’ way, further fuelling our England vs South Africa predictions.
While Erasmus’ men were overpowered in a recent clash between the two sides, they appeared to be more threatening in last November’s tie that saw England emerge as 12-11 winners.
If anything, such a result wouldn’t be all too surprising to reemerge this weekend, of course in England’s favour.
England Team News
Just as in the semifinal win over New Zealand, Jones will have a fully fit squad to pick his starting lineup from.
The only omission will be Willi Heinz, who suffered a hamstring injury after coming on as a 63rd-minute replacement against the Kiwis last weekend.
In his place arrives Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer, who made the trek to Japan as the understudy on Monday.
Yet aside from Heinz and Spencer, the Roses will field all their big guns – Tuilagi, George Ford, Jonny May, Elliott Daley, Farrell, Tom Curry, Itoje and Billy Vunipola.
And its the kind of attacking lineup that our England vs South Africa predictions are wagering will be problematic for the SpringBok backline.
South Africa Team News
For Erasmus, things don’t get any better considering that his star player, Cheslin Kolbe, is in serious doubt as to whether or not he’ll be fit for the final.
Kolbe, an electric winger, has so far been talismanic for South Africa, lighting up the World Cup with his skill and drive.
Yet the man who is filling in as the understudy is no slouch either – S’Bu Nkosi.
With eight tries in 10 tests to his name, Nkosi has proved to be just as adept as Kolbe, when called upon. And although his absence may prove to be pivotal, the SpringBok will have to make do with their resources.
England vs South Africa Betting Tips
Even the betting tipsters are wagering in favour of our England vs South Africa predictions.
Indeed, with Jones men trading as a 9/20 pick, they lie in pole position to claim international glory this Saturday. But it’s also good to bear in mind the odds about a SpringBok upset in our England vs South Africa match bets (39/20) to understand just how tough this clash could be for the Roses.
The chances of a draw leading to extra time or sudden death come into the betting scene as a 19/1 tip.
But all the evidence suggests that the Webb Ellis trophy is coming home.