Boks crush England in Twickenham to end season on high

Springbok player Damian Willemse celebrates his side's victory with coach Jacques Nienaber after the match against England at Twickenham Stadium on November 26 in London.
Springbok player Damian Willemse celebrates his side's victory with coach Jacques Nienaber after the match against England at Twickenham Stadium on November 26 in London.

The Springboks finally found their voice as they silenced Twickenham with a thoroughly commanding performance to complete their end of year tour.

The English battle cry “Swing low” fell silent early on as the visitors hit the sweet, high notes with a wonderfully fashioned 27-13 win against a team they had not beaten at home since 2014.

It was a win bathed not just in blood and guts as you'd expect from a Springbok team in the ascendancy, but they dazzled too.

This victory will challenge their win in Mbombela against the All Blacks as performance of the year.

While the marauding Springbok pack took lumps out of England upfront, wing Kurt-Lee Arendse and flyhalf Damian Willemse were the players who delivered the telling body blows on the scoreboard.

They did so on the back of some hard, honest toil of the pack.

The Boks munched England at the scrum, winning telling second-half penalties once Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff emerged from the bench. To be fair Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche had applied shoulder to the wheel by then.

The Boks applied unremitting defence once they were reduced to 10 men and were also adept at engineering crucial line-out steals.

In this matchup the Red Roses had a distinct prick, not that the Boks were without needle.

As you'd expect, Maro Itoje was a constant menace but opposite him Eben Etzebeth did exactly what you'd expect him to do in a game of this magnitude. He wasn't just all over the place, he was so in a heavy-handed manner.

He tore into England with little regard for life or limb. It was the kind of white knuckle endeavour that was going to set the Boks apart.

Like Etzebeth, captain Siya Kolisi more than stood his ground in the collisions. His work in defence and at the breakdown was colossal.

The pack and the men off the bench can take a bow.

What was more pleasing was the continued advances of the Bok attack. At the back Arendse is a tireless terrier, not just in the way he darts into space but he relentlessly snaps at the heels of opposing ball carriers. He thoroughly cemented his place in this Bok group on tour.

Willemse's battle with opposite number Marcus Smith was much talked about in the build-up but it was the South African that will lap up the plaudits. Willemse displayed just about his full array of gifts and he landed two drop goals.

If the Springboks brought a question mark into the clash it was their ability off the kicking tee. Faf de Klerk was well wide with his first attempt from a mildly testing angle but England's marksmen Owen Farrell in the ninth minute almost inexplicably pulled one to the left.

Four minutes later however Frans Malherbe was blamed for collapsing a scrum and Farrell registered the first points.

England though weren't keen on getting down in close combat. They looked for the opportunity to speed up proceedings inside the first half-hour.

However, the Springboks have developed an arm and a leg in their attack and though the match seemed to slide into a holding pattern, they broke the game from the mould of one heavy hit after the other.

They pressed hard just after the half-hour mark and once their advance did not make further inroads Willemse took a step or two back which gave him enough time to slot a drop goal.

England barely had time to absorb that knock when they were dealt a hammer blow.

Willemse collected a kick from Freddie Steward and once he beat the speeding and overcommitted fullback he had space to round hooker Jamie George. Once he was met by a defender Willie le Roux was on hand to surge further and when he was confronted he offloaded to the fast approaching Arendse.

The speedster who came into this game with six Test tries from as many starts only had Smith to beat which he duly did turning the flyhalf inside out and rounding him en route to a spectacular try.

Not even the red card shown to Thomas du Toit could alter the course of this match.


England (13) — Try: Henry Slade. Conversion: Owen Farrell. Penalties: Owen Farrell (2)

SA (27) — Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Eben Etzebeth. Conversion: Faf de Klerk. Penalties: De Klerk (3). Drop goals: Damian Willemse (2)


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