Saturday 25 November 2017

Boks dish up a reality check for Johnson

England 11 South Africa 21

Alex Lowe

England's encouraging autumn campaign ended with defeat to struggling world champions South Africa and a blunt reality check.

Two penalties from Toby Flood and some intense goal-line defence had somehow kept England on level terms at 6-6 at the interval.

But the Springboks, who finished last in the Tri Nations and were beaten 21-17 by Scotland last weekend, sealed a seventh consecutive victory over England with tries from replacement flanker Willem Alberts and wing Lwazi Mvovo. Ben Foden scored a 90-metre intercept try late on but it was merely a consolation score.

Martin Johnson's men came into the game on a wave of optimism but it proved ill-founded. England were dragged into an arm-wrestle, they committed too many mistakes under pressure and the ferocious Springboks made them pay.

They dominated most of the first half, assisted by a flurry of penalties. And it was testament to their defence that England did not trail at the interval.

Flood required treatment for a neck injury and he failed to make half-time while Tom Croft left the field with an apparent shoulder injury.

After the break, South Africa hit another penalty to grab the lead as the pressure began to build. South Africa drove through phase after phase before moving the ball wide and Pierre Spies' delayed pass sent Alberts over in the corner.

The Springboks then supplied the killer blow. From an attacking lineout Steyn set up for a drop-goal -- but the ball was moved wide for Mvovo, who brushed past Ashton to score.

England were gifted a late try after Foden picked off CJ van der Linde's offload and sprinted 90 metres to score. Tindall tried a quick drop-goal conversion and hit the post.

Scorers -- England: Foden try; Flood 2 pens. South Africa: Alberts, Mvovo tries; M Steyn 3 pens, 1 con

England: B Foden; C Ashton (M Banahan 72), M Tindall, S Hape, M Cueto; T Flood (C Hodgson 21), B Youngs (D Care 61); N Easter, L Moody (c), T Croft (H Fourie 21); T Palmer, C Lawes (S Shaw 67); D Cole (D Wilson 67), D Hartley (S Thompson 72), A Sheridan

South Africa: Z Kirchner (A Jacobs 47); G Aplon, (F Hougard 59), F Steyn, J de Villiers (Aplon 66 -- P Lambie 78), L Mvovo; M Steyn, R Pienaar; P Spies, J Smith, D Stegmann (W Alberts 48); V Matfield (c), B Botha (F van der Merwe 66); J du Plessis (CJ van der Linde 52), B du Plessis (A Strauss 78), T Mtawarira

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland)

Sunday Independent

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