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2010 EOYT – England versus South Africa


27 November 2010 – Twickenham; London

England (6) 11

Try: Foden; Penalties: Flood x2

South Africa (6) 21

Tries: Alberts, Mvovo; Con: Steyn; Penalties: M Steyn x3


England’s nascent confidence of a fortnight ago, on the back of a resounding victory over Australia (35-18), was shattered by a muscular and powerful South African side eager to consign their shock defeat by Scotland last week to history.


The hosts were fortunate to be 6-6 at halftime, courtesy of Tobey Flood, as South Africa dominated but managed only two Morné Steyn penalty kicks.  


In the second half Steyn extended the lead before tries from Willem Alberts (58th minute) and Lwazi Mvovo (69th minute) put South Africa ahead by 21-6.


In the final minutes, Ben Foden scored an interception try to take the score to 21-11.


The fullbacks score was England’s first try against South Africa in four matches but provided scant consolation for the embattled English as the Springboks extended their winning run against England to seven successive matches.


The Springboks outplayed England in all facets, dominating the contact area, rarely giving England’s backs the opportunity to attack, while their line-out functioned with ruthless efficiency.



The South African line-out was functioning well in this test match with Matfield running the show. This picture shows Victor Matfield beating Tom Palmer to the ball.


POWER; was one English commentators’ answer to a question by his co-commentator on why can’t England rise to the same heights against South Africa as was the case against Australia a fortnight ago. The answer summarized the Springboks performance to a large extent.


South Africa was more powerful at the scrums; at the rucks; at the tackle ball and at the mauls. They dominated the breakdowns and never allowed England to get into the match. England as a consequence struggled to obtain quality first and second phase ball and that was in essence the difference between the two teams. Springbok power, structure and organization at the set piece and at the breakdowns created depth and space for the visitors’ backs while depriving the England backs of quality ball.


The forward tussle was intense right from the start but South Africa took more and more control upfront as the match progressed.


Matfield said as much after the match namely that the front foot ball and the ascendency at the tackle area allowed the Springboks to spread the ball and play a little wider. For the first time this year we saw some depth on attack in the backline.


Juan Smith tackling Foden. The Springbok defence and work rate at the tackle ball was excellent in this test match.  


All is still not well in the Springbok backline but they employed some decoy runners –for the first time this season- and the ball went through the hands to the wings; Mvovo scored an excellent try because he got opportunities and it was just some good England defence and some silly mistakes that prevented the Springboks from running in a few more tries.


  Mvovo –or someone on his inside- could have scored another try if CJ van der Linde didn’t mess-up terribly. CJ hanged on to the ball too long and then off-loaded into the hands of fullback Foden who ran the length of the field to score England’s only try.


Talking about a try creating pass; wasn’t the pass by Spies to Alberts in the 58th minute just too good to be true. Too good to believe due to the fact that Spies never seems to pass the ball; even the defence was baffled by it. CJ van der Linde intercept pass was the obvious result of a prop trying to play centre. That pass almost ruined a perfect performance by the Springboks.


The pack was outstanding at set piece and in broken play. Ruan Pienaar and Morné Steyn’s tactical kicking were also a lot better in this game as compared to the match against Scotland.  They kicked into space and the chasers did well to box the England back three. The chasers was successful, I thought, mostly because the kicks were better placed but also because the team, in general, hunted in packs and were more energetic, explosive and aggressive in all facets of play but mostly importantly when going into contact. I saw only when incident were the Springboks were pushed off the ball as the players marinated superb low body positions combined with explosive leg pumping at the tackle area. The highly rated England scrum was also nullified and the South African line-out was in a different league.


Jean de Villiers on the break in this picture. De Villiers had a good game and was the architect on defence.


Coach Peter de Villiers got the ‘subbing’ right for a change as well. Alberts came on, I thought, at the right time and made immediate impact by scoring an excellent team-created-try by popping up at the right place; he also made some telling tackles.


The match


An enterprising 40-meter burst from croft set-up Flood to kick the first points of the match in the 5th minute. England’s enthusiastic desire to dominate the scrum saw them penalised by referee George Clancy for engaging too early when Andrew Sheridan missed his bind and collapsed the scrum. This allowed Morné Steyn to level the scores 5 minutes later.


Croft setting of on a run -after slipping past Bakkies Botha- resulting eventually in England first points.


Flood restored England’s three-point lead when Stegmann was penalised at the breakdown following a bull-dozing run by Sheridan.


England’s enterprise then seemed to evaporate as Springbok power took control of the rest of the first half. South Africa camped in the England 22 after a defensive howler from English fullback Foden.  However South Africa spilled a number of scoring and was able to add only three more points before halftime. Matfield ignored first ignored an overlap and went for the try just to see the ball pushed from his grasp by a desperate Ben Youngs sweep.


There were also a number of missed penalty kicks by both Steyns after Hendre Fourie earned his fourth international cap by coming up as a replacement against his country of birth.


Hendre Fourie came up as a replacement for Croft in the 22nd minute to earn a test cap against his country of birth.


Morné Steyn finally levelled the scores on 36 minutes following an England infringement at a ruck. He failed to put South Africa in the lead when he dragged a 25 meter drop-kick attempt wide of the post soon afterwards.

The Springboks maintained their attacking momentum in the second half and Steyn put the Springboks in the lead within 2 minutes after the break.


Matfield’s team turned up the intensity and the in 58th minute a deft pass by Spies set-up replacement flanker Alberts for a try in the corner.


Willem Alberts scored his second try on the tour after coming off the bench.  


The Springboks stepped-up the intensity another notch as the England resistance began to wit and Mvovo broke through a weak Chris Ashton tackle to touch down in the 69th minute. Steyn converted to take the score to 21-6.



These pictures shows Lwazi Mvovo scoring his try in the 69th minute.



A desperate cover defence tackle by Foden prevented was looked like certain try by Pierre Spies in the last quarter of the second half.  


South Africa kept on attacking and it was an infuriating passing bungle by prop CJ van der Linde that allowed Foden to intercept an ran the length of the field to score England only try in the 77th minute. A quick drop kick conversion was missed from right in front of the posts for a final score of 21-11.


It is hard to find fault with this performance form a South African perspective and this must surely rate as one of the great wins against England. England has shown steady improvement under Coach Martin Johnson and has shown intent to play a more expansive game in their most recent matches. The way South Africa outplayed them in this match was certainly encouraging.    




England: Foden; Ashton: Tindall; Hape; Cueto; Youngs: Sheridan: Hartley; Cole; Lawes: Palmer; Croft: Moody; Easter.


Replacements: Banahan for Ashton (72nd minute); Hodgson for Flood (34); Care for Youngs (62); Thompson for Hartley (73); Wilson for Cole (68); Shaw for Lawes (68); Fourie for Croft (22).


South Africa: Kirschner; Aplon; F Steyn; de Villiers; Mvovo; M Steyn; Pienaar; Mtawarira; B du Plessis; J du Plessis; Botha; Matfield; Stegmann; Smith; Spies.


Replacements: Jacobs for Kirchner (74th minute); Lambie for Aplon (80); Hougaard for de Villiers (70); Strauss for Bismarck du Plessis (79); van der Linde for J du Plessis (53); van der Merwe for Botha (67); Alberts or Stegmann (48).


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