On-form Farrell gives England the edge
OWEN Farrell struck a late penalty to propel England to a 12-11 victory over South Africa in a gripping start to their Autumn Test series at Twickenham.
It marks two straight victories for England and head coach Eddie Jones praised his squad’s efforts. “We’ve lost a few games … we played tough and we won,” he said. “When you get in those arm wrestles, someone’s got to give. We didn’t give.”
Farrell landed a difficult kick in the 73rd minute that decided the Quilter International, but the Saracens fly-half was then under the spotlight in injury time.
He appeared to lead with the shoulder in tackling Andre Esterhuizen, an offence that could have resulted in a red card being issued by referee Angus Gardner.
But the Australian official decided England 12 South Africa 11 Ireland 54 Italy 7 Japan 31 New Zealand 69 Wales 21 Scotland 10 Benetton Treviso 10 Ulster 15 Connacht 33 Dragons 12 Farrell’s tackle was legal to deny South Africa a kickable penalty.
England were under siege for virtually the entire first half, but showed resolve in defence to limit the half-time deficit to 8-6.
The Springboks pounded away at England’s line time and again but had only a try by Sbu Nkosi to show for their efforts.
Remarkably, England snatched the lead through Elliot Daly’s 51st-minute penalty without having made a single visit to South Africa’s 22 until that point.
South Africa could have won it at the death, only for a long-range penalty by Handre Pollard to brush the right upright before a late surge was foiled by Farrell’s tackle on Warren Whiteley.
England drew repeated warnings from Gardner with Maro Itoje his main target. By the 16th minute Itoje alone had conceded three penalties, the third of which was accompanied by a yellow card.
South Africa battered away at the line and Jonny May was the next to reprimanded by Gardner, who threatened a sin-binning for the next offence, as he sneaked in off-side.
Soon after Farrell landed a longrange penalty to cancel out an early three points from Pollard.
The Springboks renewed their attack with De Allende the spearhead and Nkosi raced in at the right corner.
The chaotic play unfolding in the second half suited England and Daly kicked them ahead from close to the halfway line. Then, when Farrell split the defence with a brilliant show and go, the Springboks were reeling once more.
Pollard booted a 45-metre penalty to wrestle back the lead but England came again. Farrell delivered the winning points amid a dramatic climax.
In Tokyo, Ngani Laumape scored a hat-trick and George Bridge came off the bench to mark his debut with two tries as New Zealand beat Japan 69-31 in Tokyo.
No.10 Richie Mo’unga kicked an early penalty before the Brave Blossoms went ahead with a converted try from Samuela Anise after he charged down an attempted clearance.
New Zealand soon reasserted their authority. Hooker Dane Coles, Mo’unga and Hurricanes midfielder Laumape all went over to see the visitors lead 24-7 with half an hour played.
Japan responded again through Hendrik Tui, but the All Blacks went into half-time with a 38-19 advantage.
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, with a first Test try, and Laumape both touched down before Japan added an unconverted score from Tim Lafaele.
It was soon more one-way traffic and Canterbury winger George Bridge went over to mark his Test debut with a try.
Although Jamie Henry added another Japan try in the corner, further efforts from Waisake Naholo and Matt Proctor, set up after Bridge had collected his own kick downfield, made it 57-24 to New Zealand on the hour.
Laumape completed his hat-trick soon after and Bridge chalked up his second try of the match, before Lafaele added another consolation score for the hosts late on.