England end barren run with dogged win in South Africa

The boot of Owen Farrell and Jonny May’s sublime late score secured England a crucial victory over South Africa to end their summer tour on a high.

The boot of Owen Farrell and Jonny May’s sublime late score secured England a crucial victory over South Africa to end their summer tour on a high.

After five defeats in a row, stretching back to the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations and including two losses to the Springboks in the last two weeks, England and Eddie Jones badly needed a win in Cape Town.

And in miserable conditions at Newlands, the England forwards fronted up in fine fashion as captain fantastic Farrell kept the scoreboard ticking from the kicking tee.

And while Jesse Kriel’s try at the start of the second half briefly put the Boks in front, it was England who emerged victorious and produced the game’s one moment of magic at the death.

The otherwise quiet Danny Cipriani fired an inch-perfect cross kick to the right corner and the in-form May won the race to dot it down and secure victory.   WET WEATHER   The heavens opened this weekend in Cape Town and that made the free-running rugby that characterised the first and much of the second Test near impossible.

Both sides struggled with handling errors and the barrage of high balls from box kicks from Ben Youngs and Faf de Klerk created carnage throughout.

Mike Brown continued to impress on the wing but a couple of first-half handling mistakes when in fine attacking position characterised a hard-fought but error-strewn encounter.

But the Springboks also struggled with errors both kicking from hand and from the tee for Elton Jantjies – included in place of Handre Pollard this week.   MAY’S DAY   May has undoubtedly been one of the real bright spots for England in South Africa and the Leicester winger has continued his form from the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations.

He produced the pivotal try late in the second half as he scampered onto a majestic Cipriani kick to score.

He also had a couple of half breaks to match his tries in the first two Tests and threatened the defensive line every time he carried.

But his defensive work also really caught the eye in Cape Town, including one fine covering scramble in the first half that saw him gather a greasy grubber, break out from under his own posts under immense pressure and clear his lines.   FORWARD POWER   After a couple of chastening defeats on the high veld, England’s forward pack – deprived of the Vunipola brothers and Brad Shields – rolled up their sleeves and got to work at Newlands.

Tom Curry – still only just 20 – has clearly improved with each of his three Test starts here and was a menace at the breakdown.

Chris Robshaw also showed flashes and Kyle Sinckler carried with real energy, while Joe Launchbury and Maro Itoje’s lineout noticeably improved.

The scrum also milked a few penalties, the forwards controlling the clock in the second half before the replacements arrived – although Jones opted to use them sparingly – and they managed to keep the Springboks at bay.   DANNY’S RE-DEBUT   Cipriani’s first start for England in ten years probably did not come in quite the conditions he would have liked.

This was not a day for his attacking box of tricks, but he showed a handful of nice touches in tandem with Owen Farrell in midfield.

Defensively he also fronted up as England had to hold firm while his midfield mainstay Farrell kicked his goals with cold-blooded killer instinct.

And then when his moment came, the fly-half took it with aplomb as he produced a perfect cross field kick that sat up in the dead ball area for May.