English hearts were broken all over again as South Africa overpowered the Red Rose to win the Rugby World Cup.
In a repeat of the 2007 final, the imperious Springboks sailed to a 32-12 victory thanks to a flawless kicking performance from Handre Pollard and two sensational tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Chelsin Kolbe.
England were virtually unrecognisable from their semi-final victory over New Zealand as they paid the price for uncharacteristic sloppiness.
The pre-match favourites never truly recovered from the loss of prop Kyle Sinckler
in the second minute after he was knocked unconscious, and South Africa dominated almost every scrum to slowly take the game away from England.
It was death by a thousand kicks as Pollard scored six penalties, with Owen Farrell responding four times to maintain a glimmer of hope for the Red
But despite their brutal approach for so much of the final, South Africa turned on the style with 14 minutes remaining as Mapimpi went over the line.
And the story of the match was captured by Kolbe’s late try, as South Africa’s defence brutalised England’s attack once again to win the ball, before the right wing showed too much quality and ended the game.
While England will ponder a third defeat in four World Cup finals, it’s a third triumph in three attempts for the Springboks and one which means so much.
Siya Kolisi, the country’s first ever black captain, lifts the trophy as rugby continues to bring a nation together.
His men join the famous South Africa teams of 1995 and 2007 in writing their own special chapter in the country’s folk lore.
After the match, England head coach Eddie Jones was gracious in defeat and admitted his team were beaten by the better side.
“We’ll be kicking stones for four years,” said the Red Rose boss.
It’s hard to kick stones for four years. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for these players – it’s not because of lack of effort.
“Obviously not it is not the outcome I expected.
“We couldn’t get into the game, and didn’t take our opportunities. It was one of those days.
“South Africa were worthy winners, they were the better team on the day.
Sir Clive Woodward, coach of England’s 2003 World Cup winners, said South Africa’s domination at the scrum was crucial to the outcome.
“No doubt the better team won,” he said. “At this level of rugby, if you can’t scrum properly, if you’re going to give five or six penalties at your scrum against a team like this, you’re always going to come second.
“England will be bitterly disappointed, to go down 32-12 in a World Cup final. They just couldn’t fire a shot because we couldn’t get first-phase ball.”