England better in the wet

2012-06-25 00:00

ENGLAND were still singing from the old hymn sheet after drawing the third Test 14-14 in Port Elizabeth on Saturday night while the Springboks admitted they had failed the country and that the stalemate was a step backwards.

The Boks won the series 2-0 but they let down their Sanzar partners as the All Blacks and Wallabies completed series whitewashes over Ireland and Wales on Saturday.

The Springboks struggled in the wet, breezy conditions, but would still have won had flyhalf Morné Steyn, who missed a drop and three of his six kicks at goal, not had another poor day with the boot.

But a draw was no more than England deserved as their resilient defence repeatedly denied the Springboks and exposed their tactical limitations.

“We’ve got really high standards and I don’t want to make any excuses and the players know they haven’t played well,” said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“At home you need to win Test matches and we will definitely look hard at ourselves.

“We want to make the country proud and we let them down. It is unacceptable at this level.”

Meyer said the Boks’ inexperience in playing in the wet had been obvious.

“All credit to England. They adapted much better than us to the conditions. They probed once or twice behind us and then defended for their lives. A lot of our guys haven’t played under these conditions at Test match level. But no excuses from us — England were the better team on the night”.

England coach Stuart Lancaster repeated what he said after defeats in the first two Tests — “we should have won and that was frustrating.”

“But I’m delighted with the exceptional commitment and courage shown by the players.”

Scrumhalf Danny Care, England’s man-of-the-match and try-scorer, said the display “reconfirmed our belief that we can beat the best sides in the world.”

England ended a nine-match losing streak with only the second draw between the two teams.

England, fired-up, were superior in the first quarter and Care surprised the Boks with a tapped penalty and scored. But Steyn, with three penalties, gave the Boks the half-time lead.

Replacement flyhalf Owen Farrell kicked a penalty in the second half (11-9), but England were in trouble when captain and hooker Dylan Hartley was yellow-carded in the 51st minute for repeated ruck infringements.

The Boks, untidy and aimless in their tactical kicking, could not take advantage and it was only after an hour that replacement scrumhalf Ruan Pietersen, with a long pass, freed JP Pietersen down the right wing for a try (14-11).

England struck back when Farrell landed an easy penalty (14-14) but then failed hopelessly with an attempted drop — the last kick of the game — as the Boks were forced to defend in the closing minutes.


South Africa 14 — try by JP Pietersen and three penalties by Morné Steyn.

England 14 — try by Danny Care and penalties by Toby Flood and Owen Farrell (two).

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