England 27-26 South Africa: Autumn Nations Series – as it happened

Last modified: 06: 04 PM GMT+0

Tries from Manu Tuilagi, Freddie Steward and Raffi Quirke and a late Marcus Smith penalty saw England squeeze past the world champions

And that’s the lot from us. Congratulations to England on a magnificent win, in a thrilling match, that could have gone either way. Thanks for reading and join Lee Calvert for Wales v Australia right here:

Updated

Eddie Jones on Freddie Steward: “He’s a lock playing full-back, isn’t he? If he puts on a bit of weight, he might end up a lock. But he’s courageous in the air, he’s got some nice footwork. He’s going to be a good player.”

Does Jones wish he started his ‘new England’ project sooner? “No, no, not at all mate ... the timing’s perfect. They’re right to play Test rugby [the young players]. You put them on before, and they’re not right to play, you put their career back.

“The media want to see everyone early. It’s not about that. It’s about making sure they’re ready to play.”

Updated

Robert Kitson, our rugby union correspondent, is on the scene at Twickenham. Here is his report:

Eddie Jones speaks: “It was a good night, wasn’t it? It’s always good to win a close game. South Africa have had a tough old campaign, they’ve had 18 weeks on the road, for them to front up like that tonight I thought was a fantastic effort. We’ve got a young team, they probably didn’t realise how important the game was, they just went out there and kept playing and playing and playing and we’re really pleased with them.

“I think maybe about 20 minutes into the second half, we were almost at breaking point. They were squeezing us in the scrum, squeezing us in the tackle, winning more than their 50-50 of high balls, and starting to get a bit of rhythm in their attack ... but we managed to pare that back a little bit ... the first-phase try [by Raffi Quirke] ... if you score a first-phase try in rugby, it puts you in the running, and we were able to do that.”

How happy is he with England’s progress? “You never really know, mate ... we’ve got the Six Nations coming up, the Six Nations is a contact-feast isn’t it? All you do is bash bodies ... that’s why your body’s not good, isn’t it Dylan? [laughs with the pundit and ex-England captain Hartley who is standing next to him].”

Mark Durden-Smith, the anchor for Amazon Prime, says Jones has been criticised for being risk-averse in the past, and asks him if this is a ‘new Eddie’. “I tell you what, when I coached Japan I wasn’t risk-averse. That’s a really silly thing to say. You play to the strengths of the players. We don’t coach because we want to play a certain style of rugby. If you’ve got Bryan Habana, you don’t want him just sitting on the wing, you want him touching the ball. If you’ve got the ‘Beast’ there [Amazon pundit Tendai Mtawarira] rolling up the side of the ruck, you want to use those people.”

Is Marcus Smith Jones’s starting 10 going forward? “He’ll be good mate, as long as you blokes don’t put too much poison in his head, he’ll be good.

“Look, we’ve never been bad mate. We had a bad Six Nations, but we’re not a bad team ... we had a tough period there, we didn’t play well, and probably got a little bit stale. And we’ve refreshed ourselves now and we’ll keep going forward now.”

Updated

What’s it like being Marcus Smith, asks Sonia McLaughlan on Amazon Prime: “It’s everything I’ve wanted growing up as a young kid, from back when I grew up in Asia, it all comes down to my family, my mum and dad, my two younger brothers, my friendship group, my girlfriend,” says Smith. “All of those guys supporting me and keeping me grounded ... I am sure when I get back in there [to the changing room] the first messages will be from my brothers saying: ‘I should have done this, should have done that’ ... To have those people around me is special and I’ll keep working.”

Marcus Smith speaks: “Can’t believe it ... we said four weeks ago, this is the game we wanted to target. The lads bought in, we’ve got extremely close as a group, and today was a massive, massive part of our journey as a young group of England players. To beat the world champions at home, in front of 82,000, was special and it’s a day I’ll never forget.”

What were his emotions like before the winning penalty, asks McLaughlan: “Yeah it was mental ... having to wait so long as well, I think the referees were checking the TMO, and it made it more nerve-wracking, but the boys around me backed me, the boys around me put their arm around me and said: “Go for it mate, back yourself, believe in yourself.” So I tried to do that and ultimately I did my job, it was brilliant.

“It was special. Once I hit the kick, and it was sailing through, it was like slow-motion for me and I saw it sailing through the posts ... but we still had to a job to do ... they came hard with Etzebeth in the air [after the restart]. To win the penalty at the end, and properly celebrate at the end, was amazing. This group will never forget that day.

“Over the last four weeks I’ve loved working with Owen [Farrell]. It’s a shame he fell to injury last week, but we’ve been in contact this week, and he’s been helping me a lot, and I’ve learned loads from him ... but again the boys put their arm around me, the senior players – Maro, Courtney, Marler ... to have him back as well ... was special for me. And having those guys around makes it so much easier for me.

“Jonny Wilkinson has been working hard with me ... all credit goes to those guys and I appreciate it big-time.”

Updated

England’s captain, Courtney Lawes, speaks to Sonia McLaughlan: “Incredibly proud ... I said to the boys last night how proud I was to lead them out tomorrow, which is obviously today now ... I couldn’t be happier with the buy-in from the guys. The only reason we won that game is we were fighting for each other ... and I think that really showed out there on the pitch. We made it very hard for ourselves, we left a lot of points out there, but we can build on that, definitely.”

How did Lawes feel when Smith was standing ready to take the winning penalty? “Jonny [Hill] said to me - ‘Imagine taking this kick.’ I was like, yeah, that’s why he gets paid the big bucks. He started it easy, didn’t he, no worries, like being back on the training pitch.”

And how did he feel when it went over? “Obviously very happy ... yeah, I really thought we were going to win today, and I’m incredibly happy to put in a performance like that.

“The first half, you see what happens when we put our game together. Second half, penalties, you know, little things that we don’t need to go just gives them that ‘in’ and let them play their game ... we had to stick in the fight, and we were able to seal it at the end with Marcus’s kick.”

What are England going to do tonight? “Get together and have a damn good time.”

Kwagga Smith and Kolisi are pictured discussing the yellow card incident. Kolisi is clearly demonstrating that he feels he was simply jumping and trying to catch the ball. It was a marginal call that could have gone either way, for sure.

The South Africa captain, Siya Kolisi, speaks to Amazon Prime: “It’s tough, we’re very disappointed with the loss ... it was a great game ... it’s a pity we couldn’t finish the tour strong, but I’m proud of the way the boys pitched up ... They defended well, and we made a couple of mistakes.

“We never make excuses, I’m really proud of what we did this year ... we’re very lucky to play the game of rugby ... it’s been a tough year for everyone, a lot of people have lost jobs ... playing in a stadium like this has been a huge honour ... I thought England played really well today but it’s tough that we couldn’t get the win.”

Updated

Thanks Lee. Wow, that had a bit of everything, didn’t it?

Freddie Steward, player of the match, reacts: “To be honest I was just thinking, Marcus, please don’t miss [for the final penalty]. We dug in, we fought ... they are so physical and you can’t shy away from that ... it was a huge squad effort ... when the final whistle goes it all [the emotion] comes to the forefront, I think you saw there with the boys, unbelievable.”

On his composure under the high ball: “When the ball goes up, the focus is just there, you can’t think about who’s there, it’s just about getting the ball ... the last time we played these guys I was watching it in the Uni bar, if you’d said to me then I’d be on the pitch the next time we play them ... it’s unbelievable and I’m so glad we came away with a win.”

Updated

I’m handing over to my colleague Luke McLaughlin to take you through the reaction.

Updated

Full time! England 27-26 South Africa

ENGLAND BEAT THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!

England’s fly-half Marcus Smith kicks the ball out of play to win the Autumn International against South Africa.
England’s fly-half Marcus Smith boots the ball out of play ... Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
England’s Marcus Smith celebrates at the final whistle.
And celebrates England’s victory. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

80 mins. Will Stuart secures the kick-off after Steward fumbles it backwards. At the breakdown there’s a penalty to England. Jonny May runs off, arms in the air is hysterical joy.

Maro Itoje of England reacts to Freddie Steward being tackled in the air.
Maro Itoje of England reacts to Freddie Steward being tackled in the air. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Maro Itoje of England reacts after a penalty is awarded to England after Freddie Steward being tackled in the air at the end of the game.
Then celebrates after a penalty is awarded to England. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

PENALTY! England 27 - 26 South Africa (Marcus Smith)

79 mins. Smith has slotted it, calm as you like!

England’s Marcus Smith kicks a late penalty to put England ahead 27-26.
England’s Marcus Smith kicks a late penalty to put England ahead 27-26. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Very important restart coming up...

Updated

Time is off as there’s some pushing and shoving. Marcus Smith went on a stepping run and when he was finally tackled Frans Steyn flew into him knee-first.

I’m very surprised Steyn is still on the field.

Players square up after a late penalty was awarded.
A bit of biff. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

79 mins. England have a penalty in front of the posts!

Updated

77 mins. Nic Dolly has his throw stolen by Etzebeth with an attacking platform on the SA 22 begging. On the next lineout, this time on the Bok 10m, it’s that man Etzebeth who gets into Itoje’s arms and disrupts again.

Nailed on Player of the Match, Etzebeth, by the way.

Updated

YELLOW CARD! Siya Kolisi (South Africa)

75 mins. Marcus Smith chips over the Bok tackle line for Marchant to chase. The England centre is first to it and Kolisi, challenging for it, is late and tackles him in the air.

Siya Kolisi of South Africa is yellow carded for this tackle on Joe Marchant of England
Siya Kolisi of South Africa tackles Joe Marchant of England in the air. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

The captain will watch the rest of the match from the bin. It’s 14-a-side for now, but Will Stuart is soon back on.

Siya Kolisi of South Africa is yellow carded for a tackle on Joe Marchant of England.
Referee Andrew Brace shows a yellow card to South Africa’s flanker Siya Kolisi. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

74 mins. Etzebeth cuts a beautiful line in midfield to break into open pasture running like a horse doing a cartwheel. He looks left and throws a terrible pass that misses his support then South Africa concede their first penalty of the half for sealing off.

England Sub

Courtney Lawes off, Sam Simmonds on. This means Tom Curry is the England on-field captain.

PENALTY! England 24 - 26 South Africa (Frans Steyn)

72 mins. The pattern of this game is now that England dont’ really secure possession then are penalised in the ruck. Repeat ad infinitum.

Frans Steyn tees up the latest penalty (England’s tenth this half!) and cannons it through the posts.

South Africa’s Frans Steyn kicks a penalty.
South Africa’s Frans Steyn kicks a penalty. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP

Updated

TRY! England 24 - 23 South Africa (Makazole Mapimpi)

69 mins. A regulation catch and drive from a line out on the right touchline leads to the ball fizzing left to Elton Jantjies. He flies a miss-one past Steyn and out to Mapimpi who scores in the left corner.

Jantjies pushes the conversion left. England are still ahead, but it feels like a matter of time before that ends for good.

Updated

YELLOW CARD! Will Stuart (England)

67 mins. The 17th England penalty is quite enough for the ref and Will Stuart, who didn’t do anything particularly heinous at the ruck, is off as the personification of his side’s inability to live with the SA physicality.

Updated

TRY! England 24 - 18 South Africa (Raffi Quirke)

65 mins. That lead didn’t last long! Slade fixes De Allende and pops short to Marchant on a fabulous line who splits the defence in two. He carries to Steyn and passes left to Quirke to run in for his first England try. A lovely moment from a lovely move.

England’s Raffi Quirke races through to score a try.
England’s Raffi Quirke races through ... Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
Raffi Quirke with a try for England.
And dives over to score England’s third try. Photograph: Sandra Mailer/Shutterstock

Smith converts

England’s Raffi Quirke (right) and Marcus Smith celebrate.
England’s Raffi Quirke (right) and Marcus Smith celebrate. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

PENALTY! England 17 - 18 South Africa (Elton Jantjies)

64 mins. While all that was going on, there was another penalty waiting and Jantjies puts SA in front.

Etzebeth is down after a tackle where Charlie Ewels catches him in the head with his arm. The Bok lock was heading quickly towards the floor under an previous tackle contact and the referee Brace says there’s no foul play by Ewels on the “there was little he could do” defence.

South Africa’s s Eben Etzebeth is caught in the head by a tackle from England’s Charlie Ewels.
South Africa’s s Eben Etzebeth is caught in the head by a tackle from England’s Charlie Ewels. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

63 mins. Little Raffi Quirke looks even more miniscule as his kick is charged down by Eben Etzebeth, which much feel like trying to box kick over a real life Colossus of Rhodes.

On the follow up England are penalised again. That’s 15 penalties for the home side, South Africa have four. OOF!

An England player will go to the bin soon, you have to think.

61 mins. It’s another catch, drive and megamaul from South Africa, but as Kwagga Smith attempts to wrestle over Max Malins gets under him to hold the ball up.

Slade drops the ball out from under his own sticks and Frans Steyn tries a 50 metre dop goal on the return. And why not?

He misses.

59 mins. A South African maul drives 20 metres up the left touchline and England are offside in their desperation to do something. The Boks have another attack and Reinach just can’t find Kwagga Smith near the line; but it was on the advantage and they will go to the corner again.

South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth (centre) and Englands Maro Itoje (left) during a maul.
South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth (centre) and Englands Maro Itoje (left) during a maul. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

57 mins. Slowly, surely South Africa and tightening the vice on this game. Kolisi and De Allende are carrying hugely and England have increasingly less capable answers to the Boks asking “how do you like these apples?” in every set piece.

In the latest one, Vincent Koch absolutely marmalises Marler.

Updated

Subs

Handre Pollard makes way for Elton Jantjies.

Sam Underhill’s infringement will be his last act as he’s off for Alex Dombrandt.
Will Stuart replaces Kyle Sinckler

Updated

PENALTY! England 17 - 15 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

54 mins. Sam Underhill gives away an very silly penalty when he ignores Ref Brace screaming “no!” when the England flanker puts his hands on the ball in the ruck.

Pollard slots this one with little issue.

Handre Pollard of South Africa kicks a penalty.
Handre Pollard of South Africa kicks a penalty. Photograph: Simon West/Action Plus/Shutterstock

Updated

51 mins. After Le Roux bounces a catch off his chest England have another scrum that once again folds. This time is was Kitshoff doing the damage.

Raffi Quirke is on for Ben Youngs. That’s a big call at this stage of the game as that’s quite the swing in experience. Quirke is very nippy though and SA won’t like that.

Frans Steyn replaces Willie Le Roux for South Africa

England Sub.

Joe Marler on for Bevan Rodd

MISSED PENALTY! England 17 - 12 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

48 mins. Second kick on the bounce that Pollard has shanked a bit. That’s a worry for them.

46 mins. So very nearly a try for SA. The ball is worked right to De Allende who sucks in three tacklers and offloads to Kolisi who is running free near the right touchline. As Malins stops the Boks captain his pop pass goes behind Kriel who had a free run to the line.

Kriel overran that, for me.

South Africa subs.

As expected, it’s time for a new SA front row. Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch replace Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane

MISSED PENALTY! England 17 - 12 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

44 mins. It was a chance the Bok eight are not minded to let England take as Nche atomises Sinckler with an almighty shove to win destroy the scrum and win a penalty.

Pollard misses!

42 mins. Johnny Hill gets amongst the SA jumpers at a Bok lineout on halfway and forces a knock on from Etzebeth. Just like the first half England will have an early chance this half to assert themselves in the scrum.

Second Half!

It’s Marcus Smith’s turn to get the game underway.

“England seem to be trying to keep South Africa running and not giving them chance to rest,” observes Andy Bradshaw, “be interesting to see if the Saffers let them carry on dictating a high pace”

It was certainly looking that way, Andy, but at the half wore on the Bok defence appears to have realigned to England’s new pattern of forwards at first receiver. A fascinating second half awaits

Half Time! England 17 - 12 South Africa

That will be the last act of a decent half

40 mins. Marcus Smith has just tried a drop goal and his foot connected with the ball like a raw oyster. Pretty awful effort.

39 mins. Another England lineout in the Bok 22 is a short clever one back to Blamire, but it’s all bit clumsy. When the ball is worked to Curry to carry up into the tackle line he’s swarmed by De Jager and Kwagga Smith and doesn’t release.

Pollard clears again. England need more from these attacks if they are to maintain their chance of a result.

35 mins. Ox Nche reads a Youngs pass to Rodd at first receiver in the vititors’ 22 and booms the England prop nearly back to St Margaret’s. Such is the shockwave from the hit that England’s defence forget how to ruck and are penalised for sealing off. Pollard clear the Bok lines.

33 mins. Some decent phases from England in the SA half, changing the point of attack regularly to try and outfox the Bok blitz defence. It works eventually as Malins is away down the right, but their defence can scramble as well and De Allende covers to smash the England wing into touch.

PENALTY! England 17 - 12 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

29 mins. South Africa have their first catch and drive from a lineout and as the power comes on England fold under the pressure. Penalty given and the first ominous sign that the Bok pack are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more.

In other expected news, Pollard caresses the ball over the bar again.

PENALTY! England 17 - 9 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

26 mins. Youngs puts a box kick up after England recycle the restart. Vermeulen is hit by Underhill on the return and Tom Curry is this close to winning a penalty as he was on the ball, but Ref Brace is not happy that Sam Underhill didn’t roll away after the tackle.

It’s out right on the England 10m line and Pollard hits a beauty from the tee.

South Africa’s Handre Pollard gets ready to kick a penalty.
South Africa’s Handre Pollard gets ready to kick a penalty. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

PENALTY! England 17 - 6 South Africa (Marcus Smith)

23 mins. In a very not-South Africa moment, they give a penalty away on the restart for Eben Etzebeth sealing off the ball in the ruck.

Marcus Smith calls for the tee and it’s another three points to his and England’s total.

PENALTY! England 14 - 6 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

21 mins. Handre Pollard adds another three after England infringe just outside the 22.

South Africa’s Handre Pollard kicks a penalty.
South Africa’s Handre Pollard kicks a penalty. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP

Updated

What an opening quarter from England. South Africa are not playing badly and are at the home side when they have the ball, but a combination of England’s confidence in possession plus power and refusal to be intimidated in tight is causing lots of trouble for the visitors.

England’s wing Joe Marchant (right) vies with South Africa’s fly-half Handre Pollard.
England’s wing Joe Marchant (right) vies with South Africa’s fly-half Handre Pollard. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Updated

TRY! England 14 - 3 South Africa (Freddie Steward)

17 mins. From a scrum just inside the Bok half Youngs sends it long right to Slade who whips a long pass to Steward and he find Malins to carry the ball thirty metres. From first phase that is a bit of a humiliation for the SA defence. After a couple of carries in the 22 Youngs feeds Steward who runs powerfully from short and gets over despite the attention of two green tacklers.

Freddie Steward is congratuated by his teammates after scoring England's second try
England’s Freddie Steward celebrates scoring a try with teammates. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Smith adds the two.

Updated

PENALTY! England 7 - 3 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

14 mins. South Africa run a lovely set play left and are in behind the England tackle line. A grubber is angled towards the posts which Johnny May can’t tidy up cleanly and a bit of a pushy-pasty kicks off between the two sets of forwards.

When all that is calmed down, Ref Brace takes us back for an SA penalty for England obstruction, which Pollard calmly kicks over.

Updated

12 mins. Johnny May knocks on a catch to give SA a scrum in a promising position, but Nyakane is forced to the ground by Bevan Rodd to win a penalty for the home side. There is vocal ecstasy from the pack, and understandably so as they are compounding expectations at the minute.

8 mins. England Sub. A brilliant opening attack from England is soured as Manu Tuilagi was injured while scoring and he’s forced from the field. Max Malins replaces him and moves to the wing which will bring Joe Marchant into the centre.

TRY! England 7 - 0 South Africa (Manu Tuilagi)

7 mins. England take on the SA scrim and win a penalty. That’s a great statement this early on from the home pack. The penalty is kicked to the corner, which is another statement. The ball is won cleanly and Smith works it right through hands, then all the way left via Smith once more to Tuilagi on touchline who is around the contracted Bok defence to score.

Englands Manu Tuilagi goes over to score the opening try of the the game.
Englands Manu Tuilagi is airborne ... Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Englands Manu Tuilagi goes over to score the opening try of the the game.
And goes over to score the opening try of the the game. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
England’s Manu Tuilagi is congratulated by his teammates.
Tuilagi is congratulated by his teammates. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Marcus Smith slots a huge conversion from way out left.

Updated

4 mins. A long kick deep into the Bok corner is gathered on the bounce by Marchant and England are on the attack in the opposition 22. The ball is worked left and an angled grubber is tickled towards the line by Youngs and Le Roux can do nothing but carry it over and give England a scrum five.

2 mins. Very much a smalltalk at the beginning of the dinner date stage in the opening minutes with plenty of small carries before possession kicked away by both teams. No-one really wanting to say too much about themselves in case it gets awkward

Kick Off!

Handre Pollard chips the ball into the England half and we’re underway.

@bloodandmud I heard rumours Rassie got a job as a ball boy at Twickenham today. Any truth to these?

— Brendan Large (@brendanlarge) November 20, 2021

He’s not allowed any roles involved in rugby. Rumours he’s last been seen at Bath.

HONK!

The teams are on their way out at Twickenham. The Boks in green are first, followed by England in their usual white.

Not long now.

“The Springboks are reigning world champions, and EOY world number one, with good reason. With England’s injuries and a provisional front row — and in Farrell’s absence — perhaps even lacking a talisman, it’s difficult to see anything other than a South African victory and clean sweep for the Autumn Internationals.” Emails Timothy Palmer

“Given the scale of the task standing before them, par for England is to keep the full-time score within two scores; anything better than that should see them go into the 6N with a degree of confidence about their prospects, especially given the relatively youth and inexperience of this side.”

“Prediction: SA by 7-10 in game to make Testicules the Centurion proud of all the testosterone on show.”

Pre-match reading

Ugo Monye not only has thoughts on the Rassie Erasmus ban itself, but on the effect it may have on the Bok performance today.

What chance an England win today? Where exactly is Rassie? Please send answers to these and any other questions, plus any of your own on the email or on twitter.

Updated

Teams

Owen Farrell’s COVID and injury related tribulations this November continue as he misses out today due to an ankle injury. This means Courtney Lawes takes over as captain, Marcus Smith remains at stand-off, Manu Tuilagi is back in the centre and Harlequins’ Joe Marchant is on the wing.

In the forwards, last week’s tryscoring sub Jamie Blamire starts in place of the crocked Jamie George. Nic Dolly is the hooker on the bench.

South Africa bring back Handre Pollard to the ten shirt, partnering Cobus Reinach, and Lood De Jager starts at lock.

England: Freddie Steward; Joe Marchant, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May; Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Bevan Rodd, Jamie Blamire, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes (captain), Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Nic Dolly, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Sam Simmonds, Alex Dombrandt, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.

South Africa: Willie le Roux; Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handré Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn.

Preamble

The last time the sides met there was much talk of an England win. This was before the reality of South Africa delivering brutal, eighty-minute lesson in power rugby with just right amount of sparkle to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

Some changes since then, of course. South Africa have a new head coach in Jacques Nienaber while former coach and world’s most overpaid and ineffectual waterboy, Rassie Erasmus, is banned from taking any part in this game.

No such shenanigans in the top coach chair at Twickenham where Eddie Jones remains carved into it like an increasingly disgruntled gargoyle. The coaching staff underneath are all new, however, and the current squad has a mix of those who were there to suffer the pasting of two years ago and newer blood who the Aussie wil hope are not cowed by the trauma of that defeat.

The Springboks remain what they have been since late 2018: a very good rugby team who know what they’re about and how to put it about. What they’ve added is some gamesmanship savvy which makes them all the more difficult to overcome.

Given the relatively low quality of their opposition performances so far this Autumn it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from England, but an unexpected win will go some way to giving Jones’s latest World Cup cycle a real kick up the proverbial to get it going.

Contributors

Lee Calvert (the match) and Luke McLaughlin (reaction)

The GuardianTramp

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