South Africa 23-12 England: Springboks clinch Test series a week early
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 17/06/18 12:25am
South Africa wrapped up their summer Test series with England a week early on Saturday as they beat Eddie Jones' ill-disciplined charges 23-12 in Bloemfontein.
England made the perfect start once again - as they did last week in Johannesburg - with tries from Mike Brown and Jonny May putting them 12-0 ahead inside 13 minutes.
South Africa responded via a Duane Vermeulen try and two Handre Pollard penalties before the interval, and in the second half a penalty try and another Pollard effort set them on their way.
England failed to score a point in 67 minutes of rugby and when Nathan Hughes was sin-binned for a needless piece of cynical play - slapping the ball out of Faf de Klerk's hands while off his feet - with 10 minutes left, any chance of a comeback, both in this respective Test and the wider series was gone.
The Springboks had the first opening of the match just five minutes in when centre Damian De Allende intercepted an England pass within his own 22 and sprinted all the way to England's - only a brilliant Owen Farrell tap tackle denying him the first score.
Five minutes later and it was England who hit the front - like last week - through wing Brown, who finished off a slick passing move which began with a strong Billy Vunipola carry and involved super hands from Ben Youngs, George Ford, Farrell, May - across from his own wing - before the Harlequins back ran in.
England notched their second try three minutes later through May in another superb move which saw Farrell find Ford with a pull-back pass, and Brown produce a phenomenal offload-type-bat over the top to Daly after juggling. From there, Daly fed May, who had too much pace for Siya Kolisi and Aphiwe Dyantyi and checked inside to bump past S'bu Nkosi.
Farrell's missed conversion had the score at 12-0. The Boks needed to score next and following an almighty, edgy scuffle and persistent England penalties in the corner, No 8 Vermeulen stepped up to barge his way over.
Loosehead prop Tendai Mtawarira - earning his 100th cap for South Africa - began the move with a magnificent break through the middle of a ruck and deep into the England 22. Lock RG Snyman flicked the ball back to Vermeulen, who stepped past Billy Vunipola, Youngs and Maro Itoje, and proved too strong for Daly en route to a fantastic try.
A soft penalty conceded by England at the lineout for closing the space handed Pollard the chance to cut their lead some more, as England's discipline continued to slip - Mako Vunipola lucky to avoid a yellow card for a petulant slap to the head of a prone Pieter-Steph Du Toit, while Itoje's kick out at De Klerk was not picked up by the TMO.
When Farrell turned down a shot at goal to go for the corner near the end of the half, it proved the wrong decision when England lost possession in the South Africa 22, and it was doubly costly when Pollard soon kicked a monster 60 metre penalty for the lead following Bongi Mbonambi's turnover penalty.
Having been last to score in the first period, the Springboks were first to score in the second half when, after Kolisi won a breakdown penalty and chose to kick to the corner, Steven Kitshoff was held up over the line and they earned a penalty try out of referee Romain Poite following a monumental drive forward from the resultant scrum.
Having not scored a point since the 13th minute, England thought they had a try through Brad Shields after 57 minutes but, on TMO review, it was clear the backrow had lost the ball forward in the act of attempting to ground the ball.
Farrell had turned down another shot at goal ahead of that Shields chance, and he did so again soon after but the Springboks earned a turnover at the maul as more chances for England points went by.
South Africa were next to score when Ford's aimless offload went to deck and Dyantyi won a breakdown penalty in front of the sticks, which Pollard duly dispatched for a 23-12 lead with 13 minutes left.
England's best chance of the second half came with 11 minutes left when Daly failed to make the most of a break down the right wing with May free outside him.
A minute after that, Hughes' moment of madness came as he was sin-binned for slapping the ball out of South Africa's scrum-half's hands deep in Bok territory.
With that, pressure was relieved and time, as much as anything, was against England, whose indiscipline badly let them down again and cost them another Test.
They must now head to Newlands in Cape Town for the third Test next week with the bigger prize of the series gone after a fifth (sixth including the Baa-Baas loss) defeat for Jones and his side.