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Farrell's boot and shoulder in the spotlight as England edge South Africa

The England 10 was fortunate to get away with his last minute hit on Esterhuizen.

England 12

South Africa 11    

WHEN THESE SIDES met to open aa enthralling series in June, they shared 10 tries and played out a 42-39 thriller. Twickenham witnessed a very different contest today.

Pre-match English conversation revolved around Owen Farrell, and he will remain a talking point post-match after he kicked three penalties to give England a second straight win over South Africa.

It was his last-minute tackle on Andre Esterhuizen which will demand the most analysis though, the Saracens star escaped censure from TMO and referee Angus Gardner despite leading with the shoulder and failing to wrap an arm on the carrier during the hit.

A different decision may well have turned the celebrations for the nervy one-point win sour.

Owen Farrell tackles André Esterhuizen in the final moments of the game Owen Farrell ends the game with a shuddering shoulder on Esterhuizen. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The first half of England’s new international season bore striking, and worrying, similarities to their problematic last campaign. The physicality brought by Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks kept the hosts from settling to a rhythm, while the tourists continued to show themselves as an impressive cohesive force.

And yet, England just have that knack — and inherent quality — to keep hanging in there. 

Handre Pollard had already kicked South Africa into the lead when he launched a massive 15th minute Garryowen from left to right in the England 22.

Sbu Nkosi showed off a sensational vertical leap to take a high ball above Elliott Daly within five metres of England’s line. Maro Itoje attempted to kill the ball as the ‘Boks looked to recycle and was sin-binned. However, it turned out to be a yellow well worth taking.

South Africa attempted to inflict immediate punishment, passing up a chance at three points and ultimately letting England off the hook when Malcolm Marx overthrew an attacking line-out – the first of many throwing errors from the World Rugby Player of the year nominee.

Sbu Nkosi goes over for a try Nkosi gets over for the only try of the game. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Instead of losing ground, England levelled the match up at three apiece after 20 minutes as Farrell converted an offside penalty into points. Erasmus’ men continued to be the more impressive side on show and they got a deserved try seven minutes before the interval as wing Aphiwe Dyantyi and back row Warren Whiteley showed slick catch-pass skills to create space for Nkosi to break into the right-hand corner.

There was plenty for the home fans around Twickenham to be pleased about come half-time though, as Farrell kicked the scoreboard to a misleading 6-8.

Come the second half, England finally looked like a team trying to force their way out of a slump. The pressure and physicality began to be thrust onto green jerseys and a trademark long-range Daly penalty nudged them into the lead.

Handré Pollard dejected at the final whistle Springboks react at the final whistle. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The closing 30 minutes was low on breaks and and fluid attacking play but in some ways was just as captivating as the June meetings with Pollard Farell exchanging penalties and neither side able to safely close out the Test.

After four straight meetings, it’s two wins apiece for Jones and Erasmus. They will be happy to see the back of each other for a while.

Scorers

England

Penalties: O Farrell (3/4)

E Daly (1/1)

South Africa

Tries: S Nkosi

Conversions: H Pollard (0/1)  

Penalties: H Pollard (2/3)

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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