BLOEMFONTEIN – The Springboks again came-from-behind to secure a hard fought 23-12 victory over England on Saturday night and clinch the three-Test series with a match to spare in Bloemfontein.
It was the South Africans’ second consecutive victory over the English, after beating 42-39 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg the week before.
The win saw the hosts gain an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series and maintain their unblemished history over the English on South African soil.
In almost a carbon copy of how they began the first Test in Johannesburg, it was England who succeeded on the charge with two tries from wings Mike Brown and Jonny May on Saturday.
The Bok defence was again caught napping out wide, with England gaining an early ascendancy by opting to go wide as Brown and May cashed in on the acres of space they had been left with.
Brown was the first to cross over the whitewash in the 10th minute after bulky No 8 Billy Vunipola had done the initial damage with a barnstorming run into the heart of the Springbok defence.
May’s try came two minutes later through a well-choreographed move by the English backs, with May beating two would-be defenders to canter over for an unconverted try and give his side a 12-0 lead.
But the Boks struck back nine minutes later after sustained pressure deep in the England half, when No 8 Duane Vermeulen busted his way through tackles to crash over.
Three minutes later, the home team were on the scoreboard again, this time through a penalty slotted over by flyhalf Handré Pollard to bring the hosts within two points of England.
Two minutes before the halftime interval, Pollard gave the home side the lead for the first time in the match with a 58-metre penalty that gave them a slender one point lead.
The Springboks began the second half with gusto as they made a double front-row substitution, with Steven Kitshoff and Thomas du Toit on for centurion Tendai Mtawarira and Frans Malherbe.
And the Boks were duly rewarded as they forced a penalty try from a dominant scrum in the 50th minute to extend their lead by eight points to 20-12.
England were denied an opportunity to cut the deficit when flank Brad Shields knocked-on when reaching out to score in the 57th minute.
The visitors’ woes were further compounded in the 69th minute when replacement Nathan Hughes was yellow-carded for cynical play when he slapped the ball out of scrumhalf Faf de Klerk’s hands.
Springboks 23 – Tries: Duane Vermeulen, Penalty Try. Conversion: Handré Pollard (1). Penalties: Pollard (3).
England 12 – Tries: Mike Brown, Jonny May. Conversion: Owen Farrell (1).