England salvage some pride against Springboks
Eddie Jones’ side end losing run at a wet and windy Newlands
South Africa’s Jessie Kriel is put junder pressure by England’s Mike Brown at Newlands. Photograph: Getty Images
South Africa 10 England 25
Owen Farrell kicked 20 points as England ended their five-match winless run with a deserved victory over South Africa in the third and final test at a wet and windy Newlands on Saturday.
England played the better wet-weather rugby as they forced the Springboks, who ended up winning the series 2-1, into numerous errors with the platform for victory laid by a 14-6 penalty count in their favour.
Jonny May also added a late try, superbly set-up by a kick from outhalf Danny Cipriani, who was making his first start for England in a decade but had little other influence on the game in the difficult conditions.
The only try for the Boks came from centre Jesse Kriel as the home side, who made five changes for the test, battled to breach a resolute England defence.
The penalty count that had been so damaging at Ellis Park and Free State Stadium was turned on its head with the favourable 14-6 statistic enabling Eddie Jones’ men to keep their foot on the Springboks’ throats once they had seized the lead.
It is a win that relieves the pressure on the under-pressure Jones, who can now enter the autumn series with renewed conviction.
Unfortunately, only a paltry crowd of 33,827 was in attendance at Newlands. The torrential downpour that had swept across Cape Town in the hours before the match stopped in time for kick-off but enough rain had already fallen to make the pitch treacherous.
Farrell drew first blood through a penalty and there were some promising early signs from England as May repeatedly went hunting for a ball that squirted around unpredictably.
Faf de Klerk was busy winding the visitors up to continue a theme of the series and he matched words with deeds in the 20th minute when he drove back Nathan Hughes five metres in a tackle despite being dwarfed by the number eight.
Both teams blundered their way through a low-quality first half but perhaps the most glaring error of all was when Elliot Daly casually kicked a penalty out of bounds, wasting Tom Curry’s fine turnover that had forced the infringement.
Mike Brown was England’s hardest-working player as he roamed off his wing time and again, and a 6-0 lead opened up when Farrell landed a second penalty.
The disappointing Elton Jantjies and Farrell exchanged penalties before a key moment came — the arrival of the Springboks’ replacement front row from the bench.
Prop Steven Kitshoff has been rampant all series and once again the impact loosehead bulldozed through England, providing quick ball for Warrick Gelant to direct a grubber over the whitewash for Kriel to touch down. The boot of Farrell continued to frustrate South Africa, however, as two further penalties hit their mark and when England won a scrum penalty in their own 22 their belief grew once more.
The hammer blow came in the 73rd minute when Cipriani directed the ball into the corner complete with back-spin for May to pounce, sweeping the result beyond doubt.