England break bumbling Boks
MATCH REPORT: England extended their winning streak to 10 games with a comprehensive 37-21 victory over South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.
Smashed! England smashed South Africa at Twickenham and in so doing ended South Africa's 10-year line of successes over them.
In fact the final score flattered the Springboks. England were much better in the aspects of the game that counted most. They caught and passed better, their positional play on attack and defence was better, their phases were faster and more direct, their clearing was quicker and their kicking was less inane. They scored four tries to two, which sounds not too bad for the Springboks but their tries built a victory, the Springboks's tries came when defeat was already certain.
There were obvious differences in phase play. England's defence was better organised and their attack was more effective as they played the ball to players on the move while the Springboks played to static players.
The line-outs were strange. South Africa had five jumpers, but they did not contest England's ball. Every English line-out was uncontested, and in the first half England threw in to 10 line-outs to South Africa's two.
South Africa looked better in the scrums but there were only eight of those things versus 23 line-outs.
This means that this year South Africa have lost to Ireland, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand (twice) and England, and were fortunate to win the four matches which they won. They are not in great shape, losing five out of nine Tests.
England, on the other hand, have recovered from the woes of their World Cup with 10 successive wins. The lesson of that is that recovery is always possible, but only if ordinary things are right - like getting into position, catching and passing, tackling and kicking with a purpose, not just because of indecision.
An American tennis star once said: "In case of doubt, lob." In South African rugby it seems it is "In case of doubt, kick."
The Springboks started well enough but in the last seven minutes of the first half, with the Springboks leading 9-7, England scored 13 points.
When Dan Coles was penalised at a tackle, Pat Lambie goaled. 3-0 after 3 minutes. When Tom Wood was penalised at a tackle, South Africa kicked for a line-out, mauled well and then attacked before passing back to Lambie who left-footed a drop over. 6-0 after 7 minutes. That lead lasted five minutes.
From a line-out on their right, England went left. They used two dummy runners to free up Marland Yarde from the right wing. He ran through space and gave to fullback Mike Brown who gave to rugged, fast Jonny May who got over in the corner despite Rudy Paige's attempt to stop him. From four metres in from touch, Owen Farrell converted. 7-6 to England.
At the first scrum of the match South Africa got a good shove on and played the ball wide right to Ruan Combrinck, not something they tried again!
Another penalty, another line-out and another good maul with Vincent Koch and Willem Alberts testing the English defence. Billy Vunipola was penalised in front of the posts and Lambie stroked over his third kick. 9-7 to the Springboks after 21 minutes.
That lead lasted for 12 minutes though England were getting on top as they got more possession and, after tackles, quicker possession.
Eben Etzebeth left the field after a head clash with a charging Billy Vunipola. Franco Mostert replaced him.
South Africa were penalised at a collapsed scrum in front of their posts and Farrell gave his side back the lead. 10-9 after 33 minutes.
From the kick-off England lobbed a kick which JP Petersen knocked on though not under immediate pressure. (It was probably his only act in the first half.) England immediately went wide left where Elliot Daly kicked a long way down field. England chased. Combrinck, Lambie and Willie le Roux could not control the ball and Brown dribbled ahead and then dived for the ball, pushing it backwards in his slide. Courtney Lawes, playing his 50th Test, fell on the ball and, after consultation with the TMO, the referee awarded the try. 17-9 after 35 minutes.
Springbok debutant Francois Venter got his first pass in Test rugby and generously kicked the ball to Brown who ran back till he was tackled. A ruck formed, and Venter was penalised. The kick at goal, an angled kick from nearly 50 metres from the goal-line, soared over the crossbar, and half-time broke at 20-9 in England's favour.
Early in the second half, Warren Whitely kicked downfield from inside his 22. It was not out and England ran back. From a tackle near the Springboks' 22, Ben Youngs dummied and broke inside Pieter-Steph du Toit and raced ahead, giving to Farrell who was over for a try. 27-9.
England had now scored 20 points in 10 minutes of play, and they continued to dominate when Lambie kicked the restart directly into touch.
When Alberts was penalised at a tackle, Farrell goaled again. 30-9 after 47 minutes.
Changes started after this. First came Nathan Hughes, Fijian-born, New Zealand-educated loose forward for his first cap. And on came Johan Goosen to flyhalf in the place of Lambie, and he had an energetic game.
The Springboks went left and in a tackle Venter managed to get a clever underarm pass to Whitely who, close to the touchline, stepped away from Billy Vunipola and raced downfield, passing inside to Goosen who scored far out. 30-14 after 59 minutes.
In a carbon copy of Farrell's try, Youngs dummied from a ruck, broke inside Du Toit and this time gave to George Ford on his right and Ford enjoyed scoring the try. 37-14 with 13 minutes to play.
England went through advancing phases and Ford chipped but Combrinck saved.
From a scrum, the Springboks went left in two advancing phases before going to Le Roux who dummied and scored in the left corner. Combrinck converted. 37-21 with less than a minute to play.
The Springboks were penalised soon after the kick-off and Farrell kicked out to end the match.
Man of the Match: Ben Youngs. The lively England scrumhalf was magnificent. His distribution, even in the rain, was quick and accurate, he kicked in a recoverable way and he set up two tries which made a massive difference.
Moment of the Match: Pick an England try. You have four options. Add both South African tries except that they did not contribute to the cause as much. We have chosen Jonny May's try for the clinical ease of its construction.
Villain of the Match: Nobody at all.
Tries: May, Lawes, Farrell, Ford
Cons: Farrell 4
Pens: Farrell 2, Daly
For South Africa:
Tries: Goosen, le Roux
Pens: Lambie 2
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Nathan Hughes, 21. Danny Care, 22. Ben Te'o, 23 Jonathan Joseph.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lionel Mapoe.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Andy Brace (Ireland)
Television Match Official: Jon Mason (Wales)