Springboks claim series win
Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - South Africa survived a brave second-half comeback from England at Ellis Park Saturday to triumph 36-27 and take a winning 2-0 lead in the three-Test series.
The Springboks dominated the first half to open a 25-10 half-time advantage only to see their lead trimmed to four points before right wing JP Pietersen scored a late try to seal success.
Victory for South Africa completed a great day for the southern hemipshere giants with New Zealand and Australia also winning to wrap up series against Ireland and Wales respectively.
World Cup winner Pietersen was a deserved man of the match as his run from well inside his half ended when he dived over far out for a try that gave the Springboks a nine-point cushion with seven minutes left.
A late chance for England to close the gap was squandered when they threw too long at a line-out close the Springbok try-line and the ball was cleared to the collective relief of most in a 65,000 crowd.
A much improved showing at the breakdown and superb ball retention enabled the Springboks to dominate the first half in cold, clear conditions and turn over with a 15-point advantage.
The green and gold were ahead within three minutes as an England put-in to a scrum, rolled down the tunnel and out the other side for flank Willem Alberts to snatch the ball and race over unopposed.
It was all South Africa in the early stages and they scored another try on eight minutes when the sheer strength of hooker Bismarck Du Plessis got him across the line between the posts and fly-half Morne Steyn converted.
England reduced arrears the first time they entered Springbok territory with a break from full-back Ben Foden setting up pressure that led to a penalty which fly-half Toby Flood kicked.
A Morne Steyn penalty restored a 12-point lead for South Africa and the rampant hosts claimed a third try at the end of the first quarter when scrum-half Francois Hougaard found space to nip over.
Morne Steyn converted to give his team a 22-3 lead only for England to hit back when the Springboks reacted slowly to a tap penalty from scrum-half Ben Youngs and Flood raced over for a try he converted.
There was mixed luck for the Steyns in the closing stages of the half with Morne dropping a goal and missing a penalty and inside centre Francois going just left of the post with a 60-metre penalty attempt.
England saw much more of the ball in the second half and cut the deficit to seven points with 18 minutes left thanks to a couple of tries from Youngs that Flood converted while Morne Steyn kicked two penalties.
South Africa gifted the first try to the Red Roses by overthrowing at a line-out near their line and Youngs grabbed the ball and went over for a score that took an age to be confirmed by the television match official.
The other try required no confirmation as England pressure against tiring opponents took them close to the try-line and when replacement prop Alex Corbisiero was halted, Youngs darted in to dot down and Flood converted.
A gap that was once was 19 points closed to just four after 65 minutes when Flood succeeded with his first penalty shot of the match and the Springboks were clinging to a 31-27 lead.
South Africa were rattled and under constant pressure and it took some magic from Pietersen to calm nerves as he began in his own half a move that culiminated in the right wing diving over for an unconverted try.
Tries: Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, JP Pietersen
Conversions: Morne Steyn x 2
Penalties: Morne Steyn x 3
Dropgoal: Morne SteynEngland:
Tries: Toby Flood, Ben Youngs x 2
Conversions: Toby Flood x 3
Penalties: Toby Flood x 2
Patrick Lambie; JP Pietersen, Jean de Villiers (capt), Francois Steyn, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee; Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Werner Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Pienaar, Bjorn Basson, Wynand Olivier
Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Jonathan Joseph, Manu Tuilagi, David Strettle; Toby Flood, Ben Youngs; Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw (capt), Tom Johnson; Geoff Parling Mouritz Botha; Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler
Replacements: Lee Mears, Alex Corbisiero, Tom Palmer, Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson, Owen Farrell, Alex Goode