- Willem Alberts scores only try as South Africa win at Twickenham
- Springboks extend unbeaten run to 11 matches
England 15 South Africa 16
Willem Alberts scored the only try as South Africa defeated England 16-15 in the third QBE International at a wet Twickenham Stadium to extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches.
Heyneke Meyer’s side started the second half strongly and the flanker gratefully collected a loose ball that deflected into his path on 44 minutes to flop over the line. Springboks No.10 Pat Lambie, who kicked well from the tee throughout, added the conversion to put the visitors into a lead that England could not overturn.
The game was largely even in the first half but England surged back after falling behind, with replacement fly half Owen Farrell kicking three penalties, the last with 90 seconds on the clock to trim the lead to one.
In an attritional first 40 minutes, fly halves Toby Flood and Lambie kicked all the points, with Welsh referee Nigel Owens calling the offside line at the breakdown tightly.
Leicester Tigers man Flood twice kicked England into the lead – the second time after Alex Corbisiero and England’s scrum shoved South Africa back in their 22 – but each time Lambie replied, before slotting a penalty on 25 minutes to take the visitors into the lead for the first time.
England’s pack showed a willingness to match the Springboks physically and with South Africa kicking a lot of a ball away, Mike Brown and Alex Goode got the Twickenham crowd on their feet with thrilling breaks from deep.
Down to the wire decisions
Photo: Getty Images
South Africa started the second half on top and scored a fortunate try from their first incursion into England’s half. England defended a driving line out well and Springboks lock Juandre Kruger lost the ball in contact. But Ben Youngs’ hacked clearance ricocheted off JP Pietersen to Alberts, ruled onside by Television Match Official Jim Yuille, who gleefully fell over the line.
Chris Ashton missed the best chance to get England back in the game 10 minutes later. After Manu Tuilagi intercepted in his own half and found the wing, the Saracens man opted to pass before fixing the last defender and when there was clear space in front, meaning fellow wing Brown was wrapped up by the South Africa defence.
England played with vigour in the game’s final quarter, starting to play the game in the right areas. Farrell kicked three penalties on 60, 73 and 78 minutes to trim the deficit to seven, four and then one point as England looked to build some momentum.
But in difficult handling conditions, the ball was turned over at crucial times, with England unable to mount sustained attacks on the South Africa line.
England vs South Africa teams
England15. Alex Goode, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 12. Brad Barritt, 11. Mike Brown, 10. Toby Flood, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Alex Corbisiero, 2. Tom Youngs, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5. Geoff Parling, 6. Tom Wood, 7. Chris Robshaw (captain), 8. Ben Morgan.
Replacements: 16. David Paice, 17. Dave Wilson, 18. Mako Vunipola, 19. Mouritz Botha, 20. James Haskell, 21. Danny Care, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Jonathan Joseph.
15. Zane Kirchner, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Pat Lambie, 9. Ruan Pienaar; 1. Gurthro Steenkamp, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Juandre Kruger, 6. Francois Louw, 7. Willem Alberts, 8. Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16. Schalk Brits, 17. Heinke van der Merwe, 18. Pat Cilliers, 19. Flip van der Merwe, 20. Marcell Coetzee, 21. Elton Jantjoes, 22. Jaco Tatue, 23. Lwazi Mvovo.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand) & Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
TV: Jim Yuille (Scotland)