England ends losing run by beating Boks in series defeat
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Captain Owen Farrell's six penalties and another Jonny May try earned England a much-needed consolation victory from its tour of South Africa as the visitors won 25-10 at Newlands on Saturday.
While England's performance was anything but polished, it made the most of South Africa's ill-discipline as the host conceded 14 penalties to six and made 13 handling errors.
Farrell punished the hosts as he kicked through five of his first six goal attempts to earn a 15-10 lead going into the final quarter, before May's try killed off England's five-test losing streak with a flourish.
When a knock-on gifted England possession midway into South Africa's half, flyhalf Danny Cipriani sent a raking kick into the right corner where man-of-the-match May, who scored in the previous two tests, pounced again.
"He was outstanding the whole series. He scored three tries, was probably involved in three others, and also saved one in the first half today," England coach Eddie Jones said.
"We handled the bigger moments better. In the first two tests we put ourselves in positions to win the game, but when the pressure or the scoreboard changed, we didn't handle the situation well. Today, we kept our composure and focused on the next play."
May's try was a rare piece of flair in an otherwise error-strewn game, which was played on the back of two hours of relentless winter rain.
Neither side was able to develop any momentum in the first half, when the only real opening fell to Jesse Kriel and S'Busiso Nkosi before their break down the right was snuffed out by May.
Despite finding itself on the right side of the penalty count for the first time in the series, as well as earning more turnovers, England spent much of the opening 40 minutes without the ball and inside its own half due to poor handling and trouble in the lineout.
England still went into the break 6-3 up, thanks in part to flyhalf Elton Jantjies' poor game for South Africa.
Handed a rare start ahead of Handre Pollard, Jantjies missed an early penalty attempt, dropped a pass that led to Farrell's second successful kick, and made his first contribution to the second half a knock-on.
The England scrum led to a penalty, which Farrell kicked to put England six points ahead.
"The pressure was on Elton, it was wet and our pack weren't dominating like they had in the previous games. It wasn't just an Elton problem," South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said.
South Africa bounced back with its only try of the game.
As the Springboks advanced on the English try-line, fullback Warrick Gelant took up the position of first receiver and sent a grubber in behind the defense for Kriel to score and put South Africa 10-9 ahead.
Yet the home side's lead lasted just four minutes, as Farrell kicked a fourth penalty.
Erasmus replaced Jantjies with Pollard, but it was too late as England took control with two more penalties and May's try.
It could have been worse for South Africa, but center Henry Slade knocked on an interception chance in the dying stages of the game with the try-line at his mercy.
"We took a few gambles today," Erasmus said, "but if the problems had been to do with a lack of combinations or understanding rather than discipline it would have been more acceptable. Overall I was very disappointed."