Autumn Nations Series: Springboks muscle past disappointing England at Twickenham

Planet Rugby
Kurt-Lee Arendse scoring for Springboks

South Africa produced a powerful performance as they beat a dismal England side 27-13 in their Autumn Nations Series clash on Saturday.

Tries from Kurt-Lee Arendse and Eben Etzebeth as well as three penalties and a conversion from Faf de Klerk and Damian Willemse’s two drop-goals saw the Springboks to an impressive victory, gaining revenge for last year’s narrow defeat at Twickenham.

Despite South Africa having replacement prop Thomas du Toit red carded for a dangerous tackle on 60 minutes, they comfortably saw off England, whose only try came late on through Henry Slade as they end their Autumn Nations Series on a poor note.

Signalling their discontent, the home fans booed when the final whistle sounded.

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Unfortunately for South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, he was not present to witness a comprehensive victory as he completed a two-match ban for criticising referees during the past month.

Erasmus’ actions meant the half-time presentation intended to mark Wayne Barnes’ 100th Test as a referee was cancelled out of fear he might receive abuse after he was targeted online having overseen the Springboks’ defeat by France.

It was clear early on that referee Angus Gardner had a job on his hands with multiple reset scrums and extensive back chat from both sides keeping him busy.

A high error count scarred the first half and, once De Klerk and Owen Farrell had missed simple penalties, the Springboks scrum-half drew first blood.

Farrell missed a penalty and, when Alex Coles was penalised for the second time, South Africa used their line-out to turn the screw with Siya Kolisi held up over the line.

England were unable to escape their half and, shortly after Willemse landed a drop goal, the Springboks fly-half launched a stunning counter-attack starting on his own 22.

Accelerating into space and with help from a block on Freddie Steward, he found Willie le Roux, who presented Arendse with a one-on-one against Marcus Smith that the Bulls wing completed through his sheer pace.

Willemse was causing havoc as he broke free once more and, once England had been warned for repeated defensive infringements, De Klerk increased the lead to 14-3.

Another drop-goal from Willemse

England changed their entire front-row and also brought on wing Jack Nowell for the second half but it made no difference to South Africa as Willemse booted another drop goal.

Farrell replied with a penalty but Jonny Hill’s moment of madness with De Klerk allowed the Springboks to attack and, with Tom Curry sent to the sin-bin for a ruck offence, Etzebeth touched down under the posts.

De Klerk converted and rifled over another three points only for Du Toit to receive his marching orders.

England were finally over in the 72nd minute, Slade darting over to end a long-range move started by Nowell, but they had nothing left in the tank against a resolute South Africa.

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