Springboks better lacklustre England at Twickenham 27-13

Kurt-Lee Arendse scored a try for South Africa in their win
©INPHO/Ben Brady

In the final game of the 2022 Autumn Nations Series, South Africa survived Thomas du Toit’s second-half red card to pick up a 27-13 win at Twickenham, the Springboks’ first in London since 2014.

As first-half displays go, the opening 40 minutes period was not a spectacle. It featured a couple of missed penalties, Owen Farrell one guilty party and Faf de Klerk’s misfire in the opening minutes started the contest off on a low.

That penalty came after England gave away quickfire penalties at the scrum, each of Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola pinged by referee Angus Gardner. It was a let-off for England, although South Africa would have their own when Owen Farrell slid one wide from a relatively central position.

Farrell wouldn’t make that mistake at his next opportunity, Frans Malherbe this time guilty at scrum time. It was a lead which was short-lived, de Klerk getting the Springboks on the board after Alex Coles neck-rolled Evan Roos.

England maintained their somewhat inauspicious start with Freddie Steward kicking the ball out on the full and were maybe lucky after being blown up for two side entries and a collapse at the maul.

South Africa’s power saw them held-up too and clearly displeased with not getting the scoreboard moving, Damian Willemse knocked over a drop-goal. Looking to get themselves back in the game, England launched the ball downfield through Marcus Smith and were cruelly punished by Kurt-Lee Arendse.

That high ball was fielded by Willemse, the fly-half slinking through tackles before finding Willie Le Roux in space. The full-back eventually unleashed the right wing down the touchline, the Bulls man scampering over.

De Klerk was unable to convert but would strike over a penalty prior to the break and leaving England a mountain to climb. With the aim of reaching that peak, Eddie Jones made four replacements for the second half, his very own ‘bomb squad’ in the form of Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Will Stuart all taking to the field.

Largely that move didn’t change all that much, England’s scrum conceding penalties and South Africa not showing a flicker of discomfort to begin the new half, Willemse adding another drop goal to his collection.

When the Springboks strayed offside, England took the points through Farrell again. Things would go from bad to worse for England as Eben Etzebeth crashed over the try line, England having a penalty turned over to the Boks as Jonny Hill needlessly shoved an opposition player and Tom Curry was shown yellow in a following passage of play, the openside deemed to have been laying across a ruck.

Etzebeth was a beneficiary of that extra open space and lack of grunt, the lock going under the posts as his teammates reverted back to that ground and pound style of play. Eventually leaving the field on the back of a cart, de Klerk would add another long-range penalty to the scoreline.

There was some brief hope for England as replacement tighthead for South Africa Thomas du Toit was shown red for a dangerous tackle. Tucking his arm and colliding with the head of Luke Cowan-Dickie and rightly shown red for his actions.

A man down, South Africa would acquit themselves well. Killing any England hopes of scoring again and would only concede the once before the full-time whistle. It was a try for Henry Slade, England attacking quickly with the tap, Farrell making a powerful try before the ball was fired to Slade, the centre stepping inside to aid the conversion from Farrell.

When the ball was kicking into touch and the sound of the referee's whistle blew to end the game, there were boos at Twickenham. The paying public unhappy with their England, with Eddie Jones and a first losing record at the end of a calendar year since 2008.

England starting XV: Freddie Steward; Tommy Freeman, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (C), Jonny May; Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Alex Coles, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, David Ribbans, Sam Simmonds, Ben Youngs, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell

South Africa starting XV: Willie Le Roux; Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Damian Willemse, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Marvin Orie, Siya Kolisi (C), Franco Mostert, Evan Roos

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Stven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Jaden Hendrikse, Manie Libbok, Canan Moodie