Sunday, November 28, 2010
The sense of optimism that has been emerging in English rugby in recent weeks was dealt a thundering blow on Saturday as a rattled England side were well beat 21-11 by South Africa at Twickenham.
The Springboks gave the Red Rose team a tough lesson in muscular, bullying rugby with a physical display at the set-piece that England could not handle.
Eleven points from Morne Steyn and two tries from replacement flanker Willem Alberts and wing Lwazi Mvovo saw the Springboks earn their seventh consecutive test win over the home side who had no answer to the South African physicality.
Clearly hurting from the shock defeat to Scotland last weekend, the Springboks were quick out of the blocks, and despite the absence of Schalk Burger, John Smit, Fourie de Preez and Bryan Habana, the Springboks hit England with everything but the kitchen sink.
The first-half was a turgid affair, with only an outstanding defensive performance from Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes, the standout players of Englands series, denying South Africa a try through their captain Victor Matfield. Two penalities from Toby Flood and Steyn saw the half-time scores at 6-6.
South Africas dominance eventually told in the shape of tries for replacement forward Willem Alberts and wing Lwazi Mvovo that confirmed the win for the visitors. Ben Foden scored a consolation interception try, although the missed conversion from centre Mike Tindalls epitomised the England performance.
England manager Martin Johnson was frustrated was his sides poor execution: "There were too many mistakes. Some of them were forced by their pressure but you can't compound them and let the opposition keep coming at you," he said.
"We just invited pressure back onto ourselves. Test match rugby is pretty basic and pretty simple but you have to execute the fundamentals under pressure. Too many times we didn't secure the ball. Those errors just hurt us."
South African head coach Peter De Villiers, however, admitted he was initially not so confident his side would overcome the in-form England.
"We saw the character. We stood up for ourselves. Against Wales we won the game with our defence. Tonight we won it with our attack.
"This is a big win for the country, a big win for the team. We put a marker down so we can build next year a bit easier."
Note: Thanks to tonytai2017. Better highlights will be updated later in the week.