Marcus Smith lives his rugby dream then vows to work harder to get another crack

England 27-26 South Africa: Eddie Jones’ underdogs topple world champions, scoring three tries to one at a raucous Twickenham

Smith celebrates England’s finest win since 2019 World Cup

Marcus Smith put a glorious full stop on England’s autumn campaign – then warned this new-look team is only getting started.

In the last minute of the last game Smith nervelessly slotted the penalty which inflicted defeat on rugby’s number one side.

For 82,000 delirious Twickenham fans it was payback for the humiliation of the World Cup final thumping England were given two years ago.

But Smith and the rest of ‘new’ England weren’t looking back – rather viewing their epic victory as a springboard to bigger and better.

“This is just the start of our journey,” the 22-year-old said. “It is a day I’ll never forget but we are desperate to do it again. And to do it again we need to improve.

“I’ll go away and work bloody hard to get back here in the near future.”

Up in the stands mum and dad looked on proudly as he gave them a memory to top those which they had brought him up waxing lyrical about.

Smith: “This is just the start of our journey”


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“My dad is an extremely proud Englishman,” said the fly-half. “Growing up all he’d talk about were special days at Twickenham.

“So to be able to do that in front of him and mum and my family was special. This has been a dream of mine since I was growing up.”

Nobody that has tracked Smith’s meteoric rise will be surprised he held his nerve to seal the win which capped a magnificent autumn for northern hemisphere rugby.

Manu Tuilagi scores England’s opening try – pulling his hamstring in the process


Action Images via Reuters)

“It’s probably the highest pressure moment I’ve ever been in,” he admitted. “With the delay before it as well, I had a lot of time think about it.

“I used my breathing techniques which calmed me down, focused on what I could control. It was like slow motion for me as I saw it sailing through the posts.”

It was a victory to set alongside the commanding wins over New Zealand by Ireland and France. Rugby’s Big Three return to the southern hemisphere, 654 days out from a World Cup back up here, with noses bloodied.

Raffi Quirke scores England’s crucial third try


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England’s pride was as much in performance as result. It took guts to take on the Springboks with such inexperience and to employ the element of surprise.

“We just thought ‘we have to provide a different picture to South Africa’,” Smith said. “And to do that we had to have the courage to keep playing, as not many teams beat South Africa playing them at their game.”

The Boks are notoriously difficult to get around on the wide outside but attack coach Martin Gleeson devised a couple of plays which worked a treat.

England’s opening try scorer and man of the match Freddie Steward


Patrick Khachfe/JMP/REX/Shutterstock)

The first saw Henry Slade fix the defence by using Smith as a decoy then fizz the ball out wide to Max Malins and onto Freddie Steward for the second of England’s three tries.

Then, after the visitors powered back and looked set to erase all the good of England’s first hour, Slade shaped to go wide and instead slipped a short ball to Joe Marchant up the middle who fed Raffi Quirke the scoring pass.

“We were not trying to make a statement,” Jones said after. But a statement was what England made.

England – Tries: Tuilagi, Steward, Quirke. Cons: Smith 3. Pens: Smith 2.

South Africa – Try: Mapimpi. Pens: Pollard 5, Jantjies, Steyn.

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