England 6 â€“ 42 South Africa
No amount of good old British courage could stop the number one side in the world as South Africa rampaged past England at Twickenham on a bitter Saturday afternoon in South West London. As I drove past the stadium two hours before the start I could smell the pies through my air vents and see eager fans making the short walk from nearby car parks anxiously anticipating the re-match of the World Cup final a year ago.A miniature snow shower just before kick-off hoped to prelude an exciting and enthralling encounter that the team sheets predicted. With Cipriani kicking an early penalty, singing England fans will have been in high spirits, only to have them smashed with Daine Rossow bull-dozering over to score in the 14th minute. Then a Cipriani mistake lead to try number two as impressive fly-half Pineaar charged down a clearance to score under the posts.Even with a man deficit due to a sin binning, the Proteas went into the break 20 â€“ 6 up with England giving away four penalties in 23 minutes with only Dillion Armitage going close for the home side.
However the high-tempo start to the 2nd half spurred the crowd on with the men in white camping in the touristsâ€™ 22, but a determined 14 phase play yielded no points, contrasted immediately with Jacobs utilising some expert decoying running to break through to score a 3rd try for the away side.
I really wanted to tear England apart after watching 80 minutes of pure frustration, but they didnâ€™t play badly, South Africa just out-classed them. They arenâ€™t world champions for no reason and they relentlessly defended in the 2nd half with England desperate for a try. The home side were too loose, with numerous unnecessary penalties and countless passes going nowhere near their intended target.Â Â Five try touristsâ€™ display only marred by the cynical block by full back Conrad Jantjes on exceptional opposite number Armitage as he was clean through to score under the posts. By the end South Africa were equally as rampant as England were distraught, a side so near, yet so far with only a couple of months for coach Martin Johnson to prepare his young side for the Six Nations. Tryless again, a severe need for better finishing in the backs, but no-one can question the commitment and determination of a side who were taught a very harsh lesson in front of the capacity 82000 freezing fans.Â