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South Africa vs England
Venue : Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
TIME: Saturday, June 16 Kick-off: 17:00 (16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
South Africa have drawn first blood and will be hungry to wrap up the series with another win over England in Jo’burg on Saturday.
If you thought last weekend’s clash was brutal, just wait for the next 80 minutes as these two sides were just getting warmed up.
It’s a must-win for the battered and bruised visitors as they attempt to end an eight-match losing streak against the Springboks in order to level proceedings and set up a series decider on June 23.
It’s been 12 long years since the English last managed to beat the men in green and gold on their home patch and the challenge is expected to get even tougher as the series moves from sea level of Durban to the Highveld.
The Springboks’ limited preparation after only coming together as a squad a week ago will also no longer be a factor. Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has had another week to impress his game-plan on the team and they will be better for it.
It just goes to show how important it was for Stuart Lancaster’s troops to beat the undercooked Boks (featuring four new caps as well as a new lock combination) in order to take that all-important 1-0 lead in the series.
Now the English are playing for survival at the fortress of South African rugby, Ellis Park, where the Boks won their first world cup and are just about unbeatable.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the visitors.
In the first 40 minutes in Durban, Lancaster’s men more than held their own and for a time the home side were rattled. The half-time score of 6-6 will also give England cause for optimism, but the trick now is to push on for the entire 80 minutes and combat the surge of power from the massive Springbok pack that killed off any chance of the tourists claiming victory.
England also need to find more rhythm on attack. With the exception of Ben Foden’s late try, they hardly troubled the Springbok tacklers. Changes to their backline are set to add more attacking sense with a new fly-half, centre combination, wing and full-back lining up in the City of Gold. In fact, only two players – right wing Chris Ashton and scrum-half Ben Youngs – stay where they started at Kings Park.
Their hope will be to move the ball around more, creating holes on the outside and trying to move the Bok pack around the field until the openings come.
Lancaster’s change of tactics has put the Boks on high alert, but Meyer – having had more days to prepare – will no doubt have a few tricks up his sleave too and has already fired a warning that the hosts weren’t even close to being at their best last time out.
“This team is not even five per cent toward where I want them to be,” said Meyer.
“It is important that we lift our standards this weekend.”
And that can mean only one thing: England are in trouble.
Last five results
09 Jun 2012 SAF v ENG 22-17 Kings Park Stadium, Durban
27 Nov 2010 SAF v ENG 21-11 Twickenham, London
22 Nov 2008 SAF v ENG 42-6 Twickenham, London
20 Oct 2007 WC Final SAF v ENG 15-6 Stade de France, Paris
14 Sep 2007 WC Pool A SAF v ENG 36-0 Stade de France, Paris
South Africa’s overall record against England
Played 33, Wins 20 , Losses 12 , Draws 1
South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 François Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Bjorn Basson.
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 11 David Strettle, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler. Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Owen Farrell, 22 Alex Goode.
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