Springboks subdue England

2014-11-15 18:30
Jan Serfontein (Gallo Images)
London - The Springboks have edged England 31-28 in a nail-biting one-off Test match at Twickenham on Saturday.

As it happened: England v Springboks

England, 20-6 down early in the second half, capitalised on the sin-binning of Victor Matfield to score 14 points while the veteran lock was off the field as forwards David Wilson and Ben Morgan rumbled over for converted tries to tie the match at 20-20.

But South Africa, still a man down, regained their composure to score a try through man-of-the-match Schalk Burger, while impressive fly-half Pat Lambie kicked 16 points in total.

"Conditions were tricky to begin with, but at 20-6 up we felt we had the job 75 percent done," Burger told Sky Sports.

"We needed to keep composure then sadly we got a yellow card and we were on the back foot," the openside flanker added.

"But, we huddled together and said, 'we've been here before' and that's what saw us through."

This was England's second agonising three-point loss in as many weeks following their 24-21 defeat by world champions New Zealand but they could have few complaints.

England captain Chris Robshaw lamented how his side were never in front, saying: "We were a little bit reactive today.

"We allowed them to get ahead of us and then we were playing catch-up," the flanker explained.

Fresh from their shock tour-opening 29-15 defeat by Ireland in Dublin, the Springboks made it 12 games unbeaten against England as more doubts were raised about the ability of the 2015 World Cup hosts to challenge for the Webb Ellis Trophy.

Defeat was England's fifth in a row -- albeit four were against the All Blacks -- and their worst run of results since they suffered seven successive losses in 2006.

It also meant that in 13 matches under coach Stuart Lancaster against the southern hemisphere giants of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, England had won just two.

England's scrum and line-out again held up well but they once more suffered from poor decision-making, loose kicking and needless knock-ons.

South Africa responded to their Dublin debacle by making five changes with England making just one, injury-enforced, switch as Anthony Watson replaced Bath team-mate Semesa Rokoduguni on the wing.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, significantly, dropped both half-backs Francois Hougaard and fly-half Handre Pollard, their places taken by Cobus Reinach and Lambie respectively.

A scrappy opening saw the Springboks take the lead in the 10th minute.

England fly-half Owen Farrell, running from close to his own line, gave a poor pass to Watson, who was engulfed by a horde of green shirts.

South Africa worked the ball wide to wing Bryan Habana but knocked on.

However, Robshaw had infringed and Lambie kicked the routine penalty.

South Africa made it 10-0 when England scrum-half Danny Care took too long at the base of a ruck and saw his pass intercepted by Jan Serfontein, the centre running in unopposed from 60 metres for a converted try under the posts.

England spent plenty of time in the Springbok half but failed to make it count in the 26th minute when lock Dave Attwood, having broken clear, delayed what should have been a try-scoring pass to Watson and the Springbok defence recovered.

Farrell kicked a penalty but Lambie responded and South Africa were 13-6 up at half-time.

South Africa stunned England barely 38 seconds into the second half when Lambie's well-judged kick ahead was superbly caught by fullback Willie Le Roux, running at pace, and he fed Reinach, who ran in under the posts from 20 metres for his first Test try.

Then came Matfield's sin-binning and England made their advantage count with two huge driving mauls that led to tries for prop Wilson and replacement Morgan.

But South Africa hit back through Burger, who went in on the blindside following a close range line-out off a penalty.

And just after the hour mark, England were a man down when hooker Dylan Hartley was sin-binned for stamping.

Lambie's third penalty made it 28-20 to the Springboks before England replacement fly-half George Ford's penalty, virtually his first touch, cut the deficit to five points.

But Lambie put South Africa eight points in front with just four minutes left when his kick to touch set up a line-out from which he landed a close-range drop-goal.

England created a 79th-minute try for South Africa-born centre Brad Barritt but Ford missed the conversion and it was the Springboks who were denied a try with the last play of the game by the replay official.


15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Dave Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler

Substitues: 16 Robert Webber, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 George Kruis, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 George Ford, 23 Marland Yarde

South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Cornal Hendricks


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