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Boks dismantle plucky England

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South Africa produced a brutal yet clinical display to thump a plucky England side 58-10 at Bloemfontein on Saturday scoring seven tries in the process.

England, backed by many to fall to pieces from the start, held their own for the opening quarter but eventually succumbed to the power and pace of an impressive Springbok side.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first, with England competing for a long period before the flood gates opened to allow South Africa to score four quick fire tries.

The win, and the size thereof, has broken nearly every record in the book for South Africa v England encounters. But then again South Africa has never played an England fourth team before. 

It was not a sweeping game of elan and panache. In many ways it was a drab match, the dullness of the foil setting off all the more the sparkle of the tries – seven by South Africa, one excellent construction by England.

South Africa were expected to win which made the match almost a no-win. Win big and you are playing against no-hopers. Win small and you really are not much cop. Lose and you are flung down into the abyss of rugby degradation. But then Wales sounded a warning with their fine display against Australia. Could England go to Bloemfontein and do likewise?

 

Admittedly Wales did have their second choices available though where England did not. 

England however were not even close, this damaged team ravaged by injury and stomach virus limped into the Free State capital – an injudicious team in the judicial capital of South Africa.

Bloemfontein complains that it seldom gets a Test. It got one but this one did not attract much of a crowd – just 26 000 people into the ground. The interest was nothing like that for the Super 14 final last week.

The Springboks led 30-3 at half-time and then made wholesale changes, turning the match into a sort of controlled match practice.

 

England were the first to score in the second half against a casual home side. That seemed to get the Springboks going a bit and they scored four tries in the last minutes to make the score as big as it was.

So often we have seen the big England sides outmuscle their opponents. This time they were outmuscled. They were not strong enough or fast enough to deal with the Springboks. It must have been a sore afternoon for them. And the injuries to Iain Balshaw, Andy Hazell, Pat Sanderson and Jonny Wilkinson could have done nothing to reassure them as they head to Loftus Versfeld next weekend.

It’s not that England were not brave. They were. They just did not have enough muscle. There was one moment which epitomised their courage. Big Danie Rossouw went on the charge, straight at Wilkinson. The flyhalf stood up to him, brought him down and in the process dispossessed him.

For the Springboks the return of Ashwin Willemse, who scored a try and made a magnificent break which should have led to a try, and action-man Schalk Burger must have been pleasing.

From the first line-out of the match, the Springboks went wide and they passed at every opportunity in the match. They scored their first points inside two minutes when Chris Jones infringed at a tackle-ruck and Percy Montgomery goaled on a still afternoon in Bloemfontein when he goaled ten out of ten.

Right at the start the Springboks thumped into tackles. When they had the ball they charged into the English. When the English had the ball the Springboks thumped into them. When they wanted to maul they drove it ahead, though not with quite the same cohesion that their Super 14 sides managed but obviously something that will come when they are together for more than just a few days.

When Andy Hazell was off-side Montgomery made it 6-0.

When the Springboks robbed England of their line-out ball, they went right,

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