England produced a superior tactical-kicking display to beat the Springboks 25-10 on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI at Newlands.
On the eve of the game, Bok captain Siya Kolisi spoke about the team’s drive to finish the series with a flourish and take some momentum into the Rugby Championship. The result as well as the performance at Newlands, however, suggests that this South African side still has much to address before that tournament.
The result won’t change the fact that the Boks have claimed a series win over a more fancied England side. They would have wanted to win 3-0 rather than 2-1, though. Further, they would have wanted to give their supporters one more reason to feel optimistic ahead of the more challenging clashes against Australia and New Zealand.
Conditions could not have been more challenging, especially in the first half of the contest. England attempted to use the strong winds and driving rain to their advantage. They tested the Bok back three of Warrick Gelant, S’bu Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi with a series of high kicks.
Gelant was outstanding under the high ball. As a unit, the Boks made more than their fair share of mistakes, though, conceding penalties and coughing up possession with disturbing regularity.
England also failed to adapt to the conditions in that period. The visitors led 6-3 at half-time, a scoreline that said much about the nature of the contest. England may have enjoyed a more substantial lead at the break if they had made more of their attacking opportunities.
Elton Jantjies had a night to forget. The game had been billed as an opportunity for Jantjies – and other fringe players – to prove his worth. The flyhalf did not make the chance count, however, dropping balls and mistiming kicks to put his side under pressure. When coach Rassie Erasmus brought Handré Pollard on for Jantjies in the 58th minute, the Newlands crowd cheered in appreciation.
By contrast, Gelant was one of the players who made the opportunity to start count. Indeed, it was Gelant who struck an important blow for the Boks early in the second stanza when he produced a well-weighted grubber for Jesse Kriel to chase. The Bulls centre collected the rolling ball and dotted down.
After that, however, England started to take control in terms of possession and territory. Farrell slotted two penalties and Elliot Daly pushed a long-distance attempt wide.
The visitors landed the knockout punch when Jonny May scored in the corner – after chasing another well-aimed kick – in the 72nd minute. Farrell nailed the conversion, and a subsequent penalty goal, to ensure that his side won by a significant margin.
It’s believed that this Test will be the last staged at Newlands Stadium. One would hope that this is not the case, though, as the Boks did not produce a performance to remember with any great fondness.
Springboks – Try: Jesse Kriel. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalty: Jantjies.
England – Try: Jonny May. Conversion: Owen Farrell. Penalties: Owen Farrell (6).
Springboks – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux.
England – 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Mike Brown, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Sam Simmonds, 22 Ben Spencer, 23 Denny Solomona.
Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP