England beats SAfrica 37-21, ends 10-year winless run v Boks
LONDON (AP) — England swept aside its bogey team of the past decade by beating South Africa 37-21 at soggy Twickenham on Saturday, extending its 100 percent record under coach Eddie Jones to 10 games.
The Springboks' first defeat to England in 13 meetings since 2006 was the latest painful blow for a proud rugby team that won't be sorry to see the back of 2016, having lost six of its 10 games this year.
The English were missing their first-choice locks and wings and were down to their sixth-choice openside flanker, but still had enough strength in depth to score four tries in dank, slippery conditions — two in each half. Twenty-three points came in a 15-minute spell either side of halftime.
"They pounced on our mistakes," said South Africa coach Allister Coetzee, who was insistent after the game that the Springbok "aura" wasn't fading.
Five losses in the team's last six games perhaps suggests otherwise. Coetzee will find himself under intense pressure should the South Africans lose for the first time against Italy in Rome next weekend.
Things are looking much brighter for England.
A patched-up team overcame a sloppy start — it conceded six penalties in the opening 20 minutes and was 9-7 down by the half-hour mark — to slice through the Springboks and make it 11 wins in a row, stretching back to a rout of Uruguay in the last match of its ill-fated Rugby World Cup campaign last year.
"There's always been depth in England rugby," said Jones, whose absentee list included European player of the year Maro Itoje and dangerous winger Anthony Watson. "It's about the players having more ambition, and we're starting to see players with more ambition to be top-class international players."
Recalled pair Jonny May and Courtney Lawes grabbed tries for the home side in the first half before more arrived through playmakers George Ford and Owen Farrell, who finished with 19 points after kicking all four conversions and two penalties.
Up against a typically physical Springbok pack, England made poor decisions and handling errors in the wet conditions early on. But the game turned in the final 10 minutes of the first half after Eben Etzebeth — South Africa's man mountain at lock — walked off the field groggily in the 30th following a clash of heads with England No. 8 Billy Vunipola.
England won a penalty at the very next scrum after the Springboks collapsed it, and Farrell kicked the three points to give his team a lead that was never relinquished.
Lawes scored his first international try after Springbok wing Ruan Combrinck fumbled the ball backward as he was tackled. England fullback Mike Brown hacked it forward and was about to collect when Lambie got his hand to the ball. Lawes was alert to the loose ball, which squirmed over the line, and dived onto it for a try that needed the say-so of the TMO.
A booming penalty from the halfway line by debutant Elliot Daly with the last touch of the first half put England 11 points clear, and the South Africans were further demoralized when scrumhalf Ben Youngs dummied his way through the defensive line and popped a pass up for Ford to run clear and dive over.
The match became one-sided. Lambie kicked the restart straight into touch, Farrell booted another penalty, and England was suddenly 30-9 up.
Goosen sprinted clear for a try in the 59th from Warren Whiteley's inside pass to reduce the deficit, and le Roux's try in the 79th ensured the Springboks didn't succumb to a second-worst loss to the English.
Between those Springbok scores, Farrell darted over for England's fourth try after Youngs produced another dummy — again deceiving converted flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit — to break the line.
"The English I don't think play high-risk rugby, but they execute it well," Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss said. "They are very clinical and effective."
England is three more victories away from matching its longest winning streak of 14 games.
"When I took the job I had no expectations. All I knew was I was inheriting a very good side . that had oodles and oodles of talent," Jones said. "My job was to make sure that that talent produced performances. We're starting to do that, but we've got to get better.
"We're nowhere near good enough at the moment."