Farrell boots England to consolation win
Brenden Nel
June 23, 2018

England flyhalf Owen Farrell gave a masterclass in tactical kicking, scoring 20 points as his side took a consolation 25-10 win against the Springboks in the third and final Castle Lager Incoming Tours test at Newlands on Saturday.

In wet and slippery conditions, Farrell’s boot proved deadly as the Boks were penalised out of the game, and the England magician kicked six penalties and a conversion to condemn Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus to his first home defeat as coach.

In essence, Erasmus went into this game looking for a number of answers, and while there is still a debate whether a test match is the right environment to experiment with untried combinations, he certainly got them.

For instance, to go into a test match in wet conditions without a recognised tactical kicking flyhalf and a back three that also have little kicking credentials proved to be a massive gamble that never paid off.

Elton Jantjies is a magician on a dry field, but in the wet and under pressure for his Springbok place, the Lions pivot had a nightmare, and despite his mistakes under the high ball and the relative jittery start he had, he has never been considered a wet-weather specialist.

Erasmus had said in the week that this would answer a lot of questions about players and in this case it certainly did.

But to blame Jantjies for the loss would be harsh, as the Lions pivot struggled behind a pack that struggled to get the sort of dominance they had in the first two tests, and made countless mistakes along the way.

For once in this series, England were the least penalised side, and the Boks were made to suffer at the whistle of Glen Jackson, whose 14-6 penalty count was as lopsided as it was the other way in the first two tests.

The questions that will have to be asked after this defeat will be many. The game may have been a dead rubber but it unearthed so many looming questions about the Boks' ability to play a tactical game. With so much emphasis on the running game over the past few years, the decision-making was left wanting against an England side which played the conditions well.

And to be honest, it wasn’t a game that will go down in the classics. For most of the first half it was a combination of probing for weaknesses, with the conditions making an impact more than the exuberance shown by the players.

And every time the Boks looked as if they were gaining momentum, Jackson’s whistle set them back.

Their solitary moment of happiness came early in the second half, when Warrick Gelant stabbed the ball behind the defence and Jesse Kriel scored his ninth try of his test career.

But it was a moment that came out of the blue and looked out of place with the amount of mistakes the Boks made around the park.

England’s defining moment in the game came when Warrick Gelant dropped a ball in the air and the turnover saw a wide open field out right where Danny Cipriani sent the ball towards the far corner.

And England’s player of the series, Johnny May swooped in like a falcon to claim the ball and get the crowning moment after so much hard work in the three tests.

It was then when the Boks looked beaten. When their heroics of the test series looked dead and buried, and when England coach Eddie Jones finally smiled in satisfaction after reversing a five-game losing trend.

Erasmus will be excused for the loss because the test series has already been won. But he will know that the performance was below par. He will know there are combinations that didn’t work and he will know despite the early euphoria about beating England, his record now stands at 50%.

Bigger tests await where the stakes will be raised a lot more, and the Boks will need to find a way to overcome their own demons.

But if this was to be Newlands’ last game, it proved a memorable one for England.

And one the Boks will rather want to forget.


South Africa - try: Jesse Kriel. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies.

England - try: Johnny May. Conversion: Owen Farrell. Penalties: Farrell (6)

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