England in SA
Subs harmed Boks: UK scribe
Man of the Match JP Pietersen (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The more South Africa resorted to their bench during the series-clinching Test triumph at Coca-Cola Park here, “the more England liked it”.
So says Paul Ackford, the former British and Irish Lions lock, and rugby writer for the English Sunday Telegraph.
Responding to the 36-27 outcome in favour of the Boks, Ackford suggested that the various replacements - albeit that he didn’t mention some were injury-enforced - “actually harmed the Boks”.
But he had high praise for several South African players nevertheless, describing captain Jean de Villiers as “sensational in the first forty”, Pierre Spies
as “much more like the bruiser we know and love”, and Jannie du Plessis as clearly having been so vital to the cause in the engine room that the “scrum disintegrated” when he was taken off.
Ackford nevertheless felt that Frans Steyn
“still tries to run through players when he has more to offer” and said of Tendai Mtawarira: “The Beast has been caged so far this series.”
There were mixed reviews in other London Sunday papers for losers England, now 2-0 down and with just pride to play for in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
“This young and inexperienced England team head for the (final Test) with justifiable belief that they can still conjure something out of this tough tour,” wrote Ian Stafford in The Mail on Sunday.
“It was a Test which suggested a hammering but ended with England never losing belief.”
Rather less kind was Robert Kitson in The Observer: “In some ways, England’s abject start was their salvation.
“The Springboks, clearly convinced that they were heading for a 50-point victory, removed many of their best forwards and were guilty of flagrant glory hunting, butchering two or three further tries.
“The Boks’ largesse was a significant contributing factor ... physically outgunned and lacking intensity in defence, the opening 40 minutes (for England) were nothing short of a Rocky-proportioned horror show.”*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing