Daily Maverick

Springboks engineer comeback against England in Kolisi’s captaincy debut

Siya Kolisi sings the national anthem prior to the rugby test match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2018. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

The Springboks came from being 3-24 behind at Ellis Park, to beat England 42-39 in the first of three Tests on Saturday.

Words by AFP and Daily Maverick Staff. Photos EPA and BackPagePix.

Siya Kolisi celebrated becoming South Africa’s first black Test captain by leading his country to a thrilling 42-39 triumph over England on Saturday in the first Test in Johannesburg.

Trailing by 21 points after 18 minutes, the Springboks staged a magnificent rally to lead 29-27 at half-time and held off a late England charge to succeed in a ten-try thriller.

A 60-metre penalty from full-back Elliot Daly in the third minute served an early warning to the Springboks that the visitors were desperate to snap a three-match losing streak.

Winger Mike Brown followed up with a try in the corner and Farrell converted to give England a 10-point advantage with just five minutes gone.

Rattled South Africa pulled three points back when fly-half Handre Pollard slotted a penalty only for the Red Rose to respond with two more tries.

Daly crossed the try line on 15 minutes and Farrell two minutes later with great ease as rampant England tore through the South African defence at will.

Farrell converted both scores and with 18 minutes gone in the first half, near silence enveloped Ellis Park with dominant England 21 points ahead.

Damian de Allende (R) of South Africa tackles Mike Brown (L) of England during the rugby test match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2018. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

Kolisi kept it cool and rallied his troops and with scrum-half Faf de Klerk playing a starring role as the hosts began to forge a comeback with four tries in the second quarter of the first half helping them to claw back aa 29-24 advantage.

Pollard failed to convert the first score from De Klerk, but added the extra points to those from débutant winger Nkosi (two) and full-back Willie le Roux.

Faf de Klerk of South Africa during the international rugby match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on 9 June 2018 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Willie le Roux of South Africa scores try during the international rugby match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on 9 June 2018 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
epa06797156 Aphiwe Dyantyi (R) of South Africa in action against Henry Slade (L) of England during the rugby test match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2018. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
Aphiwe Dyantyi of South Africa celebrates after scoring a try during the rugby test match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2018. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

As an exhilarating first half went into additional time, Farrell slotted a penalty to trim the gap to just two points at the break.

It was asking too much for the second half to match the drama of the first and so it proved initially as South Africa camped in the England half but added only a Pollard penalty.

RG Snyman of South Africa tackled by Mike Brown of England during the international rugby match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on 9 June 2018 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa celebrates after the rugby test match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2018. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
South Africa’s captain Siya Kolisi (C) and his teammates celebrate after the rugby test match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2018. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
Franco Mostert (C) of South Africa takes the ball off the top of the lineout during the rugby test match at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2018. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
Siya Kolisi (r) embraced by Duane Vermeulen of South Africa (l) after victory during the international rugby match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on 9 June 2018 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

England lost prop Mako Vunipola to the sin bin on 63 minutes for a late tackle and almost immediately Dyantyi marked his first cap with a try which Pollard converted.

Lock Maro Itoje scored to narrow the South African advantage to seven points only for Pollard to kick a penalty four minutes from time and stretch the lead to 42-32.

But there was yet another twist to a remarkable match right at the death when winger Jonny May scored and Farrell hastily drop-kicked the conversion.

Siya Kolisi of South Africa during the international rugby match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on 9 June 2018 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

England then had a chance to snatch a stunning victory when they forced a lineout inside the South African half, but the home team won it and a memorable Test came to an end.  DM

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