England's hopes of top tier dashed
International rugby review: England’shopes of a top four seeding for the 2015 World Cup ended today as South Africaextended their unbeaten run over their hosts to 11 matches, with a 16-15 win at Twickenham.
The defeat meant that England needed Samoato beat Francein Paris as the first part of a difficult combination of results that also required Stuart Lancaster’s side to beat New Zealand by more than 15 points next week.
Samoa looked like obliging at stages of the game at the Stade de France, leading 14-10 at one stage early in the second half, before France outhalf Frederik Michalak kicked the home side to a 22-14 win.
Despite defeat, Samoa moved up to eighth place in the IRB rankings, with Argentina slipping to ninth, the third tier, ahead of the World Cup draw on December 3rd.
Walesare now left in a perilous situation after their 10-33 defeat to New Zealandat the Millennium Stadium. At present Warren Gatland’s side are in seventh position, but must beat Australia next weekend to stay in the top eight. If they lose, Samoa will move up to seventh behind Ireland and Argentina move back into the second tier in eighth position.
At Twickenham, in rain and heavy conditions underfoot, ideally suited to the visitors' big forwards, Pat Lambie and Toby Flood traded penalties in the opening half as South Africa took a slim advantage.
A fortuitous try soon after the restart for powerhouse flanker Willem Alberts gave the Springboks the momentum and while England looked threatening at times, South Africa kept them at bay.
The Springboks now head home second in the rankings after also beating Ireland and Scotland on their northern hemisphere tour.
Robshaw accepted sole responsibility for the controversial late decision o kick a penalty goal which arguably cost England the chance of a victory.
England were trailing 16-12 with just over a minute remaining when Robshaw, after some apparent on-field indecision, instructed Owen Farrell to kick the goal rather than go for the corner.
Last weekend, Robshaw was criticised for not taking the points on offer as England slipped to a 20-14 defeat to Australia. He denied that experience influenced his decision today, explaining that he felt England still had time to kick the penalty and then get back down field. But they failed to gather the restart and South Africa saw out the closing seconds.
“All those decisions come down to me,” Robshaw said. “I thought we had the time to get the points and get back down there. We always look back at decisions. It was one of those where if we had won it would have been the right decision. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the result today. We will go back and look at the video and analyse it.”