South African Rugby

Monday, June 04, 2007

South Africa 55 England 22

Saturday's most revealing snapshot happened in the Bok’s dressing room at half time. England was up 19-17, having just scored a converted interception try from Dan Scarbrough to add to four penalties by Jonny Wilkinson. Instead of panicking and ranting .White delegated responsibility to the players. They accepted the unspoken challenge to get their butts in gear and put in what White described as "our best 10 minutes in the two Tests" to run in three tries and splinter England's resistance.

The 43rd minute try scored by Bakkies Botha was the most ominous, showcasing as it did the rare pace, power and handling skills of the forwards. As for the second of Bryan Habana's two tries, taking his tally against England to five in their last three meetings, there was pure genius in the way he ducked into space and threw a glorious sidestep to leave the debutant Nick Abendanon in a heap of twisted vowels. Pierre Spies, the No 8 with hands the size of dustbin lids, also waltzed over for the first two tries of his Test career in a manner which suggested he may well shatter all Test scoring records for a forward by the time he is finished and what a start he is a real find from this English tour.

For England this series was an unnecessary evil, a sickly damage-limitation exercise. For South Africa, contrary to what Brian Ashton keeps claiming, the legacy has been purely positive. "It's easy for Brian Ashton to say because he didn't lose to South Africa for the last seven years. There are a lot of psychological bonuses for us," insisted White. Bring on September.

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