Springboks outplay England at Twickenham
REPORT: World champions South Africa ended 2022 with a 27-13 win over England in their concluding end-of-year international at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Springboks outscored England two tries to one, wing Kurt-Lee Arendse and veteran lock Eben Etzebeth both crossing, with flyhalf Damian Willemse landing two drop-goals.
South Africa, who overwhelmed England 32-12 in the 2019 World Cup Final in Japan before losing by a point at Twickenham last year, held out despite playing the final 20 minutes down to 14 men after Thomas du Toit was sent off for a high tackle on Luke Cowan-Dickie.
England, who had come from 19 points down late on to snatch a stunning 25-25 with New Zealand last week, then cut South Africa’s lead to 14 points nine minutes from time when replacement back Henry Slade went over for a converted try.
But the Springboks, unlike the All Blacks, held firm for their second victory in four November matches as they ended the calendar year with nine wins from 14 Tests ahead of their 2023 World Cup defence in France.
By contrast, the result meant England had won just one of their November matches as they suffered a sixth defeat in 12 internationals this year.
South Africa’s victory was all more impressive as they were missing several players for a Test taking place outside World Rugby’s international window, with coach Jacques Nienaber making four personnel changes to the side that thrashed Italy 63-21 last week.
England coach Eddie Jones brought back Mako Vunipola and hooker Jamie George to the front row as centre Manu Tuilagi won the 50th cap of an injury-plagued Test career that started back in 2011.
Jones’ men had won just one of their previous November matches, overwhelming Japan following a shock opening loss to Argentina.
The Springboks had suffered defeats by Ireland and France during the November campaign – with director of rugby Rassie Erasmus receiving a two-game matchday ban following his social media posts regarding refereeing decisions following those losses.
South Africa’s Faf de Klerk and England captain Owen Farrell were off-target with early penalty chances at a rainswept Twickenham.
Farrell’s miss, from a central position, was all the more surprising as he had been successful with all 15 of his previous goal-kicks during this month’s campaign.
Both men then found their range before Farrell missed again to the dismay of a capacity crowd as the Springboks started to establish territorial dominance.
Their pressure was rewarded when Willemse landed a 30-metre drop-goal just after the half-hour mark and barely 60 seconds later the Springboks had a try.
England flyhalf Marcus Smith’s clearing kick was safely gathered in his own 22 by Willemse, who evaded onrushing home fullback Freddie Steward and George with a clever step before finding fullback Willie le Roux on his inside.
Le Roux then released Arendse, sprinting up on his outside, the wing standing up Smith and then speeding past him for a seventh try in seven Tests.
De Klerk missed the conversion but South Africa were 14-3 ahead at the interval when the scrumhalf landed a penalty.
Willemse then caught England cold with a second drop-goal a minute into the second half, again from 30 metres.
Farrell was on target with a penalty only for a fresh England ruck infringement to see Tom Curry sin-binned minutes later.
South Africa won possession from the close-range line-out and lock Etzebeth was then driven over for a try between the posts in the 49th minute that De Klerk converted to put the Springboks 24-6 ahead.
England then gave away their tenth penalty of the match and, from just inside the half-way line, the diminutive de Klerk made no mistake with an excellent kick.
Du Toit then saw red and Slade, after a break by replacement wing Jack Nowell, scored a well-worked try that converted by Farrell.
Man of the match: Wing Kurt-Lee Arendse was exceptional out wide and he scored one of the tries of the season in the second half. Francois de Klerk annoyed the English around the rucks and he gave Marcus Smith plenty of headaches with his rush defence. Eben Etzebeth was a colossus up front and he scored one of his team’s tries in the match. However, the award goes to Damian Willemse who enjoyed his best outing in a Bok No.10 jersey. He was the man who started the build-up to Arendse’s try with a great run and produced two great drop goals as well.
Pens: Farrell 2
For South Africa:
Tries: Arendse, Etzebeth
Con: De Klerk
Pens: De Klerk 3
DGs: Willemse 2
Red card: Thomas du Toit (South Africa, 61′ – foul play, high tackle)
Yellow card: Tom Curry (England, 48′ – cynical play, slowing the ball down)
England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Alex Coles, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Canan Moodie.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) & Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)