- Second-half tries from Morne Steyn and Jean de Villiers defeat England in Durban
- Late Ben Foden try a consolation for committed visitors
South Africa 22 England 17
South Africa recorded an eighth straight victory over brave England at Kings Park after two tries in a dominant second-half performance made the difference in Durban.
There was plenty for Stuart Lancaster and his men to take from the defeat, especially during a fine first-half display when they match their hosts in the physical battle and under the high ball.
But South Africa's relentless hard running saw them get on top in the second and tries from Morne Steyn – who also kicked four penalties – and new skipper Jean de Villiers ensured they ran out worthy winners.
Owen Farrell also kicked four penalties for the tourists and England will take belief from a strong finish which saw wing Ben Foden dive over for a spectacular try after the hooter had sounded.
England were given an early boost when, after the typically robust Manu Tuilagi had launched the visitors' first real attack, debutant lock Eben Etzebeth was penalised for going off his feet and Farrell landed an excellent long-range penalty.
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The hosts were on terms six minutes later when a strong burst from relentless flanker Willem Alberts eventually led to South Africa securing a penalty of their own which Steyn landed.
But the visitors continued to hold their own with debutant Tom Johnson catching the eye with his work at the breakdown and with ball in hand.
They were forced to produce some desperate defence to keep the hosts out after Tuilagi had come up with a wonderful try-saving tackle on the rampaging Pierre Spies, but scrabmled well in defence before fellow first starter Joe Marler earned a much-needed turnover.
Having survived that scare, England hit the front again on 25 minutes when a powerful surge from Ben Morgan into the South African 22 ended with Marcell Coetzee being pinged, allowing Farrell to slot a regulation penalty.
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Again the lead was short-lived, Steyn responding in kind minutes later as England infringed at the breakdown following a strong run from de Villiers out wide on the right.
The visitors went in level at the break as Steyn surprisingly missed a third penalty opportunity when Johnson was spotted hooking the ball back into the scrum with his hand by the touch-judge.
Having finished the opening 40 in the acendency, the hosts took it up a notch and emerged to dominate the third quarter and score two tries in 12 second-half minutes.
With England pinned back, the sustained pressure finally told on 48 minutes when, after Jannie du Plessis had been hauled down just short of the line, the ball was moved out wide to Steyn who forced his way over from close range.
Steyn missed the subsequent conversion and South Africa then spurned an easy chance to extend the lead as they chose to run a penalty from in front of the posts only for England to turn over.
There was, though, an air of inevitability when they did move further ahead on the hour mark with their second try. Having forced their way to the England 22, the ball was spun left to right across the field, where JP Pietersen fed de Villiers who smashed through the challenge of full back Mike Brown to touch down.
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But again Steyn was unable to convert and, just when they looked right up against it, England responded to give themselves renewed hope – two quick attacks drawing penalties that Farrell kicked to reduce the deficit to just four points at 16-12.
Steyn rediscovered his range with the boot to restore the lead to seven after England had been caught offside when stretched in their own 22 with ten minutes remaining.
The lead was again ten when replacement Paul Doran Jones was penalised at his first scrum to give Steyn another shot at the posts, but England finished on a high and, after several patient phases by the South African line, Foden dived over in the right corner for a try which was eventually awarded by the TMO. Farrell could not make the academic conversion from wide on the right.
South Africa v England teams
South Africa: Z Kirchner; J P Pietersen, J de Villiers (capt), F Steyn, B Habana; M Steyn, F Hougaard; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, E Etzebeth, J Kruger, M Coetzee, W Alberts, P Spies.
Replacements: A Strauss (for B du Plessis, 66) C Oosthuizen (for J du Plessis - blood - 49-58), F van der Merwe (for Etzebeth, 58), K Daniel (for Coetzee, 73), R Pienaar (for Hougaard, 56), P Lambie (on for Kirchner, 41), W Olivier (for Habana, 32-41).
England: M Brown; C Ashton, M Tuilagi, B Barritt, B Foden; O Farrell, B Youngs; J Marler, D Hartley, D Cole, M Botha, G Parling, T Johnson, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan.
Replacements: L Mears (for Hartley, 76), P Doran Jones (for Marler, 73), T Palmer (for Botha, 59), P Dowson (for Morgan, 62), L Dickson (for Youngs, 73), T Flood (for Barritt, 54), J Joseph (for Brown, 78).
Referee: Steve Walsh (ARU)