Highlights to follow…
South Africa took a winning 2-0 series lead over England by winning a full-blooded second Test 23-12 in Bloemfontein Saturday.
After trailing by 12 points early on, South Africa clawed to a 13-12 half-time advantage and dominated a second half in which England rarely looked like scoring.
A crucial score came on 50 minutes when South Africa were awarded a penalty try after the England scrum crumbled under pressure close to their tryline.
It was the 300th Test win by the Springboks since they debuted in 1891 and a wonderful way for prop Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira to celebrate his 100th cap.
England suffered a fifth Test loss in a row as they once again failed to build on a promising start in which they ran South Africa ragged.
The losing streak under coach Eddie Jones began last February in Scotland and France, Ireland and South Africa (twice) have beaten the Red Rose since.
Under-pressure Jones demanded a great start from his team to dent the confidence South Africa gained from a dramatic 42-29 first Test win in Johannesburg last weekend.
And he got it as tries by wingers Mike Brown and Jonny May, one of which captain and centre Owen Farrell converted, lifted the tourists into a 12-0 lead on 13 minutes.
Brown and May went over in the opposite corners as England made a superb start, looking like a team fed up with the criticism of four consecutive Test losses since February.
As was the case last Saturday, the Springboks defence was in disarray early on, struggling whenever the Red Rose took the ball wide.
But just like last weekend, captain and flanker Siya Kolisi rallied his team and they were back in the game on 24 minutes when number eight Duane Vermeulen barged over to score.
Fly-half Handre Pollard converted and slotted a close-range penalty soon after to trim the England lead to 12-10 with 30 minutes gone in a frenetic first half.
French referee Romain Poite had his hands full keeping the match from boiling over and warned Kolisi and Farrell he would not tolerate any more foul play.
A minute before half-time, Pollard attempted a 60-metre penalty and to the delight of the Free State Stadium crowd the ball sailed over the bar for a 13-12 half-time advantage.
South Africa brought on fresh props Steven Kitshoff and Thomas du Tolt early in the second half and they soon made their presence as the home team were awarded a penalty try after a scrum.
A Pollard penalty after 67 minutes was the only other second-half score and England hopes of a dramatic comeback suffered a severe blow when loose forward Nathan Hughes was sin-binned.
Cape Town will host the dead-rubber final Test next Saturday. DM
"What's the sense in having an eclipse if you can't look at it? Somebody in production sure slipped up this time!" ~ Charles M. Schulz