Far­rell in class of his Owen again

Sunday Sun - - Rugby -

OWEN Far­rell struck a late penalty to pro­pel Eng­land to a 12-11 vic­tory over South Africa in a grip­ping start to their au­tumn se­ries at Twick­en­ham.

Far­rell landed a dif­fi­cult kick in the 73rd minute that ul­ti­mately de­cided the Quil­ter In­ter­na­tional, but the Sara­cens fly-half was then un­der the spot­light as con­tro­ver­sey reigned in in­jury time.

He ap­peared to lead with the shoul­der in tack­ling An­dre Ester­huizen, an of­fence that un­der the cur­rent crack­down on dan­ger­ous tack­les could have re­sulted in a red card be­ing is­sued by ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner.

The Aus­tralian of­fi­cial de­cided Far­rell’s tackle was le­gal, how­ever, to deny South Africa a kick­able penalty.

Eng­land were un­der siege for vir­tu­ally the en­tire first half, over­pow­ered by South Africa’s pack at every turn but they showed re­solve in de­fence to limit the half-time deficit to 8-6.

In­spired by the hard car­ry­ing of in­side cen­tre Damian de Al­lande, 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, an Eng­land side heav­ily de­pleted by in­jury snatched the lead through El­liot Daly’s 51st-minute penalty with­out hav­ing made a sin­gle visit to South Africa’s 22 un­til that point.

That land­mark was es­tab­lished soon af­ter Daly had struck and Ed­die Jones’ men fi­nally burst into life, show­ing the ur­gency and be­lief that was miss­ing in a pas­sive first-half.

At the heart of their fightback was Far­rell, who jus­ti­fied Jones’ de­scrip­tion as the team’s “spir­i­tual leader” with a dis­play of skill and re­silience that helped avenge the 2-1 se­ries de­feat in June.

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 rode their luck dur­ing a tense first quar­ter, draw­ing 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, although he had least pre­vented Ivan van Zyl from scor­ing a cer­tain try be­fore killing the ball.

South Africa bat­tered away at the line and Jonny May was the next to rep­ri­manded by Gard­ner, who threat­ened an­other sin-bin­ning for the next of­fence, as he sneaked in off-side.

A dis­mal line-out throw al­lowed Eng­land to lift the siege, how­ever, and soon af­ter Far­rell landed a long-range penalty to can­cel out an early three points from Pol­lard.

Itoje re­turned from the sin-bin and was soon given an­other tick­ing off by Gard­ner as a col­lapsed five-me­tre scrum in­vited more pres­sure, but once again South Africa’s line-out throw was wild and the dan­ger passed.

The Spring­boks re­newed their at­tack with De Al­lende the spear­head, his speed and eye for the gap re­peat­edly gen­er­at­ing mo­men­tum and with Eng­land stretched, Nkosi raced in at the right cor­ner.

Both sides lost key men early in the sec­ond half to leg in­juries as Tom Curry and Eben Etze­beth de­parted and the tempo of the game rose sharply with more rugby be­ing played in the South African half.

The chaotic play un­fold­ing suited Eng­land and sud­denly they were break­ing into the op­po­si­tion half at will. Daly kicked them ahead from close to the half-way line and when Far­rell split the de­fence with a bril­liant show and go, the Spring­boks were reel­ing once more as play swung from end to end.

Pol­lard booted a 45-me­tre penalty to wres­tle back the lead but it was soon panic sta­tions for his team­mates as Eng­land came again, but they ral­lied well with Far­rell de­liv­er­ing the win­ning points amid a dra­matic cli­max.

Eng­land’s Owen Far­rell kicks a penalty dur­ing the Au­tumn In­ter­na­tional match at Twick­en­ham Sta­dium

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