England slide to win as Boks slip to loss
● England ended a five-test losing streak with a controlled performance at a slippery Newlands yesterday to save some face and take a first win in South Africa since 2000.
An ill-disciplined Springboks conceded 15 penalties to England’s six.
Centre Owen Farrell gave a flawless kicking display with six successful penalty kicks and a conversion for a 20-point haul, and wing Johnny May scored England’s first-ever try against the Springboks at Newlands to kill the contest eight minutes from time.
Without territory and possession the Boks simply had no answer to England’s much more clinical ability to play the conditions.
The Boks were behind on the scoreboard from the outset and held the lead for two minutes after centre Jesse Kriel pounced on a well-weighted kick by fullback Warrick Gelant early in the second half.
The treacherous conditions were always going to be a leveller in the match.
Considering how wet it was underfoot, both sides managed the elements admirably, but it was a match that would always come down to who made the least mistakes.
England’s players are much more wellversed in soaking, cold conditions and after a strong start by the Boks that kept England pinned back for the opening exchanges, the visitors grew into the match.
Though it was a tight, attritional battle, England managed to create occasional space more effectively than the home team.
May carried on his form of the first two tests by making inroads into Bok territory. Initially he couldn’t finish because finding the final pass on a surface resembling an icerink was nearly impossible. But he had the telling say.
Two of the six penalties the Springboks conceded in the first half resulted in points from the boot of Farrell. The Boks were also let off the hook when England fullback Elliot Daly kicked a penalty dead instead of setting up a lineout close to the Boks line.
All things considered, going into the break 6-3 down after flyhalf Elton Jantjies landed a penalty on the stroke of half time, was a good outcome for the Boks in the opening 40 minutes.
Jantjies, who has never brought his Super Rugby form to the test arena, struggled to give his side shape in a match that couldn’t be further from a habitat he thrives in.
He twice knocked on kicks under relatively little pressure and always looked uncomfortable in the conditions and was withdrawn on the hour.
Most of the tactical kicking was left to scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, who was reasonably accurate with his up-and-unders but both he
It was a match that would always come down to who made the least mistakes
and Jantjies are left-footed and the Boks were occasionally penned in without a rightfooted kicking option.
The set pieces were finely balanced throughout but England openside Tom Curry was a menace at the breakdown and edged that battle, leaving the Boks looking to their heavy hitters to give them momentum.
Locks Franco Mostert and RG Snyman and flank Pieter-Steph du Toit ran willingly into contact and were met with fierce resistance on the gain line while No 8 Nathan Hughes was England’s battering ram-inchief.
The big men all but neutralised each other in a contest that turned on fine margins. And with Farrell driving his team around the park with accuracy and Jantjies doing the exact opposite, there was only going to be one winner.