South Africa broke English hearts with a ruthless display of power rugby to seize their third Rugby World Cup in devastating fashion.
Twenty-two points from the boot of nerveless fly-half Handre Pollard and second-half tries from wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe ground England into the Yokohama dirt on a horrible night for Eddie Jones’s men.
England had trailed 12-6 at the interval after taking a hammering in the scrum and making a series of handling errors.
And despite four penalties from captain Owen Farrell they never looked like closing that gap as the Springboks produced an outstanding display to match those of 1995 in Johannesburg and 2007 in Paris.
South Africa took that momentum and through a Pollard Garryowen-and-gather went deep into the English 22 before Willie le Roux knocked on as he carved an outside line down the right.
England were rattled, throwing loose passes, Farrell isolated as he tried to mop up one from Billy Vunipola and Pollard banging over the resulting penalty for 3-0.
The huge Springbok pack was making a mess of the English scrum and disrupting their line-out, but when the men in white made their first series of forays they won a breakdown penalty and Farrell levelled things up.
Yet England knocked on at the restart, had their scrum splintered and were behind again as Pollard slotted the penalty from the angle.
Back they came. The forwards hammered away at the South African line after driving a line-out on the 22, Courtney Lawes and replacement Dan Cole both going close until Duane Vermeulen infringed and Farrell kicked the penalty for 6-6.
What could have been 15-12 was suddenly 18-9 as South Africa set up a maul in midfield and England were caught offside for a penalty that Pollard was never going to miss.
England had 22 minutes to save their World Cup and grabbed a lifeline from Farrell’s fourth penalty after Vermeulen held on from the restart.
Luke Cowan-Dickie and Mark Wilson came on for Jamie George and Sam Underhill but with 14 minutes to go the killer blow came.
South Africa went left down the blindside, Mapimpi kicked on and Am gathered before finding the winger on his outside shoulder for the first try the Springboks had scored in three World Cup finals.
Pollard’s conversion from in front made it 25-12 and the stands were alive with green-shirted noise.
And when the diminutive Kolbe stepped and accelerated through an exhausted rearguard in the final moments the Springboks could kick-start a Japanese party that will sweep through their homeland.