Five things we learnt at Twick­en­ham

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Gavin Mairs

1 Dis­ci­pline still an is­sue for hosts

On a day of lion-hearted brav­ery from Eng­land, their first-half dis­ci­plinary prob­lems seemed a dis­tant mem­ory at the fi­nal whis­tle and Owen Far­rell was cleared of a po­ten­tial high tackle that could have cost them the game at the death. Yet Eng­land will know that the con­ces­sion of such a high penalty count, 11 to South Africa’s five, will be pun­ished much more heav­ily by the All Blacks. The tone was set at the first line-out, when Maro Itoje was pe­nalised for in­ter­fer­ing with Eben Etze­beth in the air, and mo­ments later Kyle Sinck­ler was pe­nalised for en­ter­ing a maul at an off­side po­si­tion, al­low­ing Han­dre Pol­lard to land his first penalty. Itoje would go on to be­come Eng­land’s worst of­fender, con­ced­ing two more penal­ties in the first half, the sec­ond of which may have pre­vented a try when he lay over the ball af­ter a tackle on S’bu Nkosi, earn­ing him­self a yel­low card. It took heroic Eng­land de­fend­ing, and Spring­bok profli­gacy, to en­sure that they did not make the nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage count.

2 Spring­bok strug­gle at set-piece

On three oc­ca­sions, the Spring­boks looked cer­tain to use their for­mi­da­ble driv­ing maul to score and yet squan­dered each op­por­tu­nity. Mal­colm Marx was twice guilty of over­throw­ing his jumper. When the Spring­boks at last did man­age to set their maul, the ball was knocked on as they marched to­wards the line. While the in­tro­duc­tion of Ben Moon brought more so­lid­ity to the English scrum, South Africa’s line-out woes con­tin­ued. Eng­land’s re­sis­tance was cap­tured when the Spring­boks col­lapsed to con­cede the win­ning penalty.

3 Mitchell’s de­fence holds up well

Eng­land are in­stalling a new de­fen­sive sys­tem un­der John Mitchell, which Ed­die Jones de­scribed as re­quir­ing more “en­ergy and a con­nec­tion” from the play­ers. It will never have a more test­ing work­out, par­tic­u­larly in the first half. In the face of some fe­ro­cious car­ry­ing, Eng­land’s de­fen­sive line stood up well, with Mark Wil­son and Itoje each mak­ing 13 tack­les. That South Africa en­joyed 64 per cent ter­ri­tory and 59 per cent pos­ses­sion but could not trans­form those stats into a vic­tory says much about Eng­land’s de­fen­sive en­ergy.

4 Eng­land de­vel­op­ing depth of char­ac­ter

Given their poor run and the lack of ex­pe­ri­ence up front, Eng­land proved this is not a squad that is in dan­ger of un­rav­el­ling. They took the game by the scruff of the neck de­spite be­ing out­played in the first half. They found a way to win, in­still­ing fresh hope. Far­rell punched the air at the end and Jones jumped in ela­tion in what is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant re­sults of his ten­ure. South Africa could not match Eng­land’s grit and the vis­i­tors’ er­ror count in­creased dur­ing the sec­ond half. The fi­nal anal­y­sis showed a green Eng­land pack re­fus­ing to be in­tim­i­dated.

5 Vis­i­tors lack am­bi­tion in at­tack

Eng­land had lit­tle chance to run through their at­tack­ing play­book in the first half, but South Africa’s lack of am­bi­tion cost them. It seemed as if the Spring­boks felt a con­tained per­for­mance would ease them to vic­tory given their dom­i­nance up front. When Eng­land gained par­ity af­ter the break, they looked sharper in pos­ses­sion, with Jonny May ex­celling. El­liot Daly was twice guilty of step­ping in­side when an over­lap was on, but Eng­land carved out space in the wide chan­nels to give them enough front­foot ball to snatch vic­tory.

High stakes: Eng­land kicker Owen Far­rell was not pe­nalised for a con­tentious tackle

Man of the match: Mark Wil­son was tena­cious in the tackle

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.