Boks stay unbeaten

Sat, 24 Nov 2012 16:32
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South Africa retained their year-end unbeaten run with  hard-earned 16-15 win over England in a dour arm-wrestle at Twickenham on Saturday.

South Africa retained their year-end unbeaten run with  hard-earned 16-15 win over England in a dour arm-wrestle at Twickenham on Saturday.

There will be some debate about the only try of the match, going to Springbok flank Willem Alberts, but they will take the win nay way they can.

The Boks have now stretched their unbeaten run against England to 11 matches - with a 14-all draw in June the only mishap since South Africa's last loss to England back in 2006.

It is also the first time since 2008 that the Boks won all their matches on their year-end tour.

There were many incidents in the match to discuss.

First Patrick Lambie grubbered. The ball hit Manu Tuilagi's boot and bounced back to Lambie's boot which struck the ball and carried on with the grubber which Zane Kirchner grabbed to set up a South African attack.

The Springboks bashed and then went wide. Ruan Pienaar passed to Juandré Kruger who went into the tackle but lost the ball backwards. Ben Youngs of England kicked the ball, but straight onto the boot of JP Pietersen. The ball ricocheted off Pietersen's boot and flew forward towards the England goal-line.

Ben Morgan of England put up a hand but knocked the ball forward into Alberts's grasp, and the big flank plunged over for a try, which the TMO confirmed.

That made it 16-6 to the Springboks after 43 minutes and they did not score again. It was just enough to win the match despite an outbreak of bungling.

It was a strange way to win a match. But it had come when the Springboks opted to try to score a try when a penalty was a  safe bet - unlike England who opted for a penalty when a try was all that could win them the match with fewer than two minutes left.

It was a miserable day of gloomy rain at Twickenham and the rain increased during the match. But give both sides credit as they both produced a game of endeavour and occasional excitement. It may just have been the Springboks' most creative effort this year and that in grim conditions.

England, back in the white of Rugby School, started with great intent, trying to outSpringbok the Springboks in physical aggression - charging into things. But it did not work and in fact they looked better when Mike Brown and Alex Goode were running with the ball.

The Springboks battled in the scrums. Jannie du Plessis was penalised three times in the first half and replaced at the break. Somehow Pat Cilliers managed to cope better with the shenanigans of Alex Corbisiero. England's scrums in the first half produced the following stats - four scrums, six collapses, threeresets, three penalties and a free kick. Four scrums with 13 problems.

It's not working! At one stage the referee got the front rows out and gave them a warning. He was looking at Du Plessis throughout his dressing down.

Later in the match the Springboks were given the choice after a skew line-out throw and opted for another line-out, rather than the usual scrum. This happened twice in the match. It could have happened more often as more throws looked decidedly off-line but were allowed to go.

Toby Flood kicked off; the Springboks caught and formed a ruck. Pienaar kicked but Geoff Parling charged it down. Lambie did well the grab the ball on the slippery surface but England piled into him and François Hougaard was penalised. But Flood missed a relatively easy kick, as he did later in the half.

England attacked again, the Springboks were offside and this time Flood goaled. 3-0 after 5 minutes.

England were dominating the game - except for the line-outs where Eben Etzebeth was too good for them and their chunky hooker Tom Youngs too inaccurate.

Morgan was penalised at a tackle and Lambie, whose goal-kicking was unerring, goaled. 3-3 after 8 minutes. Four minutes later Du Plessis was penalised at a scrum and Flood gave England a 6-3 lead.

The Springboks had a scrum for an unplayable maul and Chris Robshaw was penalised. 6-6 and then Corbisiero went offside. The Springboks led 9-6 after 25 minutes.

The Springboks were running and Hougaard had a promising nanosecond but lost the ball and Goode ran strongly and promisingly down the midfield.

Half-time came at 9-6.

Then came the try. Certainly there were smiles from above on the Springboks below.

After 45 minutes Owen Farrell replaced Flood, who had taken a knock to the head in the first half - not that that was the reason for the change.

There was a brawl soon afterwards when Etzebeth was penalised for pushing an opponent in the face.

Tuilagi burst ahead, handing off Lambie and then intercepted a pass from Pienaar with the Springboks hot on the attack. Off went Tuilagi but it was clear that he did not have the legs to outrun the Springboks and passed to Chris Ashton who gave to Brown who was tackled by Cilliers and Adriaan Strauss - two front-rowers, such is the Springboks' defensive intent.

Pienaar and Hougaard were clever on the blind but the scoring belonged to Farrell - three penalties, one against Vermeulen at a tackle and one against Francois Louw at a tackle. 16-12 after 72 minutes.

At this stage the Springboks were in a bungling phase. Pienaar kicked out on the full when the ball was taken back into the 22. Louw was penalised and Farrell goaled. Lambie's kick-off went out on the full, which produced a scrum on the half-way line where the Springboks were penalised. That gave England an attacking line-out. Marcell Coetzee was penalised for not using his arms in a tackle and Robshaw decided to kick at goal. Farrell goaled, and there was no time for England to do anything about scoring enough points to win.

Man of the Match: Our vote goes to Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen - those punishing tackles, those punishing carries and even winning a line-out. There were also great performances from Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw and, catching the high ball, Zane Kirchner. Patrick Lambie had a much better second half. For England there were fine performances from Alex Goode and Mike Brown in the backs and by rugged Geoff Parling in the pack.

Moment of the Match: It simply has to be that try. You will probably never see its like again.

Villain of the match: We are giving it to those players who took part on that unseemly pushing and tugging that ended when Eben Etzebeth was penalised.

The scorers:

For England:
Flood 2, Farrell 3

For South Africa:
Con: Lambie
Pens: Lambie 3

The teams

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Jonathan Joseph.

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 François Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 François Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Jaco Taute, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)