Rugby union: Springboks tell plodding England: you don't fool us

Rugby union: South Africa coach Jake White made some wily assessments of England after his team's powerful win over Samoa.

South Africa ensured they will go into Friday night's likely group decider against England at Stade de France high on confidence by crushing Samoa 59-7 in Paris yesterday and accused England of spoofing in their leaden-footed victory over the United States the previous day.

England's pedestrian three-try win had been greeted with a mixture of disdain and incredulity but the South Africa coach, Jake White, said he was not going to be fooled by the events of Lens, suggesting the uninspiring performance was down to England's long-term planning.

"It is clear to me that England put their players through a huge week physically in the run-up to the game against the United States and this was reflected in the way they looked so heavy-legged on Saturday night," said White. "They will do very little this week and ensure that come Friday they will be fresh.

"We know that this will be a very difficult game and we are not paying any attention to the way England played. All we are doing is looking at ourselves: we have beaten them in three of our last four matches, we have more caps than any South Africa team before in the World Cup and we have our most capped captain.

"I was delighted with the victory over Samoa but neither it nor England's win will count for anything on Friday. Four years ago when the two countries met at the group stage, everyone said beforehand that England would walk it. It did not happen like that and there is no way we will have a trace of complacency this week."

Half of South Africa's eight tries against Samoa were scored by the wing Bryan Habana, taking his total to 26 in 29 Tests. "It was a good first performance but England will be a step up and they will pose a totally different threat," he said. The Samoa coach, Michael Jones, agreed. "I think England-South Africa is a 50-50 game," he said.

White was last night awaiting a fitness report on the centre Jean de Villiers, who sustained an arm injury. Samoa may become the first victims of the International Rugby Board's crackdown on the criticism of officials after their captain, Semo Sititi, said of yesterday's referee, Paul Honiss: "I was very disappointed with him. I told him there were two teams playing, not one. All his decisions went against us and it affected our morale."


Paul Rees at Parc des Princes

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