Tag Archives: springboks

England must pass Six Nations test before dreaming of World Cup

If England pass the Six Nations test then World Cup dreams become real

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 2 December 2012

England will gain great self-belief from this fantastic victory, yet they must also realise the dangers of going into the Six Nations as ‘top dog’ — the one all the other teams will be gunning for.

If England can emerge champions from a very important tournament in their development they really will be gaining the momentum towards challenging for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

When the 2003 World Cup-winning gang last beat New Zealand the team was at its zenith. We knew that summer, following the win in Wellington, we could beat anyone, anywhere if we played well.

Morale: England will gain huge self-belief thanks to the fine victory

Morale: England will gain huge self-belief thanks to the fine victory

More from Ben Kay…

Ben Kay: England must not be conned by All Black rope-a-dope tactics
30/11/12

Ben Kay: Johnson would never have stood for shambolic ending against the Springboks
25/11/12

Ben Kay: Forget about the Springboks, let's trust in England trio
23/11/12

Ben Kay: Make way for Manu! England must use Tuilagi properly to earn victory over South Africa
18/11/12

Ben Kay: Here is how England can tame dangerous Wallabies flanker Hooper
16/11/12

Ben Kay: If Wallabies get the jump on us – we'll be in trouble
11/11/12

Ben Key: Lineouts will be key so it is important that Youngs doesn't throw a wobbler!
09/11/12

Ben Kay: Johnson comes to the fore but England will be disappointed
24/06/12

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Some 12 years on this England team are far younger and are at the embryonic stage of development. Chris Robshaw’s team might even be happier playing their next game as underdogs against another southern hemisphere power rather than going into the high-pressure games of a tournament as a strongly-fancied team.

England start at home against a Scotland team who have had a poor autumn campaign, but who will use England’s win over the All Blacks as a way to motivate themselves.

It was certainly a total performance by England.

Everyone had talked about how they needed to go out and take on New Zealand, but no one truly believed that they would match the All Blacks for tries.

Yes, England did get a couple of breaks, especially Dan Carter missing those kicks in the first half, but they kept the scoreboard ticking over through some great work by the forwards and Owen Farrell’s accuracy.

I knew at the start of the second half England were mentally right when Geoff Parling led the charge from the kick-off to gain a scrum which led to another penalty by Farrell.

And the way England immediately regained the momentum, after New Zealand had scored their first two tries, was another turning point.

Tough: Brad Barritt takes down Victor Vito

Tough: Brad Barritt takes down Victor Vito

Sir Clive Woodward always told his 2003 team that the opposition were at their most vulnerable when they had scored.

Brad Barritt disproved that theory, though. After he and Manu Tuilagi had surged away to create the team’s first try, Barritt, despite the magnitude of his score, was the man sweeping up the kick off at the re-start by New Zealand.

That try put England on the front foot and led to the further tries by Chris Ashton and Tuilagi which forced the All Blacks into some very unusual desperate play.

Roaming: Manu Tuilagi was among the scorers

Roaming: Manu Tuilagi was among the scorers

England must have realised they had the All Blacks beaten when Carter, the world’s best player, was substituted after 64 minutes.

The only aspect the All Blacks looked better at times than England was their passing, especially for Julian Savea’s second try.

It was one of the best I’ve seen, but will be lost in the exhilaration of watching a great England performance.

New Zealand coach Ian Foster criticises Chris Robshaw for his decision making

He'd have been shot! That's what All Blacks would have done to 'calamity captain' Chris

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UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 27 November 2012

England’s under-fire captain Chris Robshaw found sympathy in short supply when New Zealand indicated their disapproval of his decision making.

Robshaw has been heavily criticised for directing Owen Farrell to kick for goal when England trailed 16-12 to South Africa with two minutes remaining of Saturday’s clash at Twickenham.

New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster showed his disdain for Robshaw’s decision when asked how he would react if an All Blacks’ captain made the same call.

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Not impressed: New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster had little sympathy for Chris Robshaw

Not impressed: New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster had little sympathy for Chris Robshaw

Foster pointed an imaginary gun to his head and pulled the trigger while veteran centre Conrad Smith, who was sat beside him, grinned.

Farrell’s attempt was successful but there was no time left to secure victory as the Springboks held out for a 16-15 triumph.

Successive defeats to Australia and South Africa have left England facing a whitewash in their QBE internationals against the southern hemisphere heavyweights.

But Foster refuses to underestimate their
challenge at Twickenham on Saturday as New Zealand attempt to stretch
their unbeaten run to 21 Tests.

Mocked: Robshaw's decision making was being mocked on Twitter with a picture of him competing on Who wants to be a Millionaire

Mocked: Robshaw's decision making was being mocked on Twitter with a picture of him competing on Who wants to be a Millionaire

'It’s a dangerous time to be playing England. We saw that a little bit when we played Wales on Saturday,” Foster said.

'They will have targeted us and there’s no better way for redemption when you’ve had a couple of defeats than to knock over a top team.

'Between that and the youth they have, a little sense of adventure could come into their game.

Getting it wrong: Robshaw tells Owen Farrell to kick for goal rather than kick for the corner

Getting it wrong: Robshaw tells Owen Farrell to kick for goal rather than kick for the corner

'They’ve come off two big games so the energy levels will be pretty even and it will just be about who executes the best.

'They showed during their summer series in South Africa that they can play with a bit of width. They proved they have the ability to do that.

'It’s going to be at least as tough as the Wales match from what we’ve seen.

'That was a very physical game and we were fortunate to execute really well in some moments and pile on a lot of pressure.'

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Tom Wood: We must back Chris Robshaw

We must back captain Robshaw, move on from the loss, and prepare to beat the All Blacks

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UPDATED:

23:30 GMT, 25 November 2012

Everyone is focusing on that penalty decision at the end of the game and criticising Chris Robshaw, but I have to jump to his defence – that is a tough call to make.

Obviously there were some differences of opinion on the pitch but that is because it wasn’t a clear-cut choice. We’d had difficulties in the lineout, so it wasn’t at all certain that we would have scored a try if we had gone to the corner.

If we had taken that option and had a crack at the Springboks, it would have put more pressure on them when they were on the ropes.

Tough call: Chris Robshaw (left) had a difficult decision to make in the final moments of the Test against South Africa

Tough call: Chris Robshaw (left) had a difficult decision to make in the final moments of the Test against South Africa

Maybe it would have been a bigger statement to make but Chris decided to get the points on the board and, if we had won the ball back from the restart, we would have had a big chance to win the game.

It was a close call to make and I don’t think the reaction to what happened against Australia the previous week helped.

After that game, we were criticised for going to the corner, not for the posts, now the criticism is the other way round.

As captain, you are damned either way.

These are all real-time decisions and on Saturday the clock was ticking in the dying seconds.

There is no magic formula to win a game. If Chris did change his mind after saying we were going for the posts, it’s probably because it dawned on him that the whole process was taking too long and we were running out of time.

Often in modern-day rugby, coaches will make these decisions anyway and radio it on.

The captain won’t always make the call. I’ve been in club games where someone runs
on with the tee before the captain is even off the floor!

Moving on: Flanker Tom Wood backs his captain

Moving on: Flanker Tom Wood backs his captain

The captain has a feel for how the game is going whereas a coach’s decision from the stands is more removed.

Sometimes it is a good thing to make an emotive decision when the heart is pumping,
at other times it can work the other way.

We need to sit down together and decide — are we putting all the responsibility in Chris’s hands If so, we have to stand by that and back ourselves.

All the talk is about that decision, but we should have won the game anyway.

We were the better team. Immediately after the game I was angry.

I blamed myself for not being able to stop their try. I had been in the thick of our maul defence and we had done a great job of stopping them, then I saw the ball bobble loose.

I heard a thump as it was hacked away, then it seemed to fly around like a pinball and suddenly it went past me in the air.

I was off-balance so, when I tried to grab it, the ball dropped in front of Willem Alberts
and he fell on it over the line.

When the TMO was looking at it, I tried to keep an eye on the big screen, but I had my head in my hands. It was a gut-wrenching moment after we had battled so hard to defend our line.

Flare up: Tom Wood (left) tried to prevent the bust-up between Ben Youngs and Eben Etzebeth (centre)

Flare up: Tom Wood (left) tried to prevent the bust-up between Ben Youngs and Eben Etzebeth (centre)

I was praying there had been a knock-on or something. When the try was awarded, I knew the whole nature of the game had changed.

We were 10 points down and would have to play catch-up.

After a defeat like that, I struggle to switch off. Even if I’m shattered I struggle to sleep.

We can’t throw everything in the trash just because we lost to a top team by one point.

Next Saturday we face New Zealand and we have to bring all the elements of our game together in one huge performance.

We will be under big pressure but we can beat the All Blacks. They are human, so beatable.

We will throw everything at them and what better way to salvage a frustrating autumn series than by beating the world champions.

Next up: World champions New Zealand await England

Next up: World champions New Zealand await England

Toby Flood toe injury rules him out of New Zealand clash

Flood blow for England as toe injury rules fly-half out of New Zealand clash

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 25 November 2012

Stuart Lancaster's autumn of discontent looks set to get even worse after first-choice playmaker Toby Flood suffered a serious toe injury that looks certain to rule him out of next week's clash with New Zealand.

The fly-half suffered the injury in the early stages of his side's 16-15 defeat by South Africa at Twickenham as England suffered their second loss to a Southern Hemisphere side in a week and their fourth in six games under coach Lancaster.

Black day: Toby Flood was forced to come off just after half-time against South Africa

Black day: Toby Flood was forced to
come off just after half-time against South Africa

Yesterday's defeat, following on from last week's 20-14 loss Australia, ended in controversial fashion as England captain Chris Robshaw instructed Flood's second-half replacement, Owen Farrell, to kick a penalty with a fourpoint deficit on the scoreboard and less than two minutes remaining.

Robshaw appeared to change his mind after initially opting to kick to the corner, telling frustrated Farrell to instead kick for the posts, leading to confusion and a needless delay.

Farrell, who clearly wanted to kick for the corner in the hope of securing a drive over try from a line-out, kicked the three points on offer, but with the seconds ticking down, England lock Mauritz Botha dropped the ball from South Africa's restart and the Springboks were able to hack the ball into touch to claim a narrow victory.

It added up to another miserable afternoon for Lancaster, who was last night considering his options at fly-half after Flood had an X-ray and was spotted leaving Twickenham with his right foot in a protective boot.

While the X-ray revealed no break to the bone, it is understood that Flood suffered ligament damage in a collision with two South African players and he will be out of action for up to four weeks.

That will rule him out of Saturday's clash with the world champion All Blacks, giving Lancaster an extra headache following his side's latest disappointment. Flood missed two kicks out of four at goal yesterday as England were unable to capitalise on a glut of firsthalf possession.

This meant they were unable to claw their way back from a 16-9 deficit just after half-time when South Africa Willem Alberts scored a fortuitous try.

England 15 South Africa 16: Penalty call haunts Red Rose again as fortuitous try seals Springbok win

England 15 South Africa 16: Penalty call haunts Red Rose again as freak try seals Springbok win

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UPDATED:

17:03 GMT, 24 November 2012

England's autumn is beginning to look as bleak as the Twickenham weather after Willem Alberts' fortunate try earned South Africa victory.

Stuart Lancaster's men now head into next weekend's appointment with world champions New Zealand on the back of narrow defeats at home to Australia and the Springboks.

England competed every step of the way with South Africa, matching the Springboks for intensity and desire and they battled back from 16-6 down with real heart.

Crucial score: Willem Alberts goes over the line for the only try of the game despite the attentions of Joe Launchbury

Crucial score: Willem Alberts goes over the line for the only try of the game despite the attentions of Joe Launchbury

They were the better team,
particularly in the second half when Owen Farrell came on, but their
undoing was a slice of bad luck just after the interval.

When Ben Youngs' hacked clearance
rebounded off JP Pietersen, the ball fell to Alberts who scored rugby's
equivalent of an open goal.

Farrell added three penalties to the
two struck by Toby Flood as England battled all the way to the death.
Lancaster will be encouraged by those qualities.

Family affair: Tom Youngs (left) attempts to intervene as Eben Etzebeth grapples with brother Ben

Family affair: Tom Youngs (left) attempts to intervene as Eben Etzebeth grapples with brother Ben

But assistant coach Graham Rowntree
himself said he was sick of talking about lessons learned and England,
despite Alberts' fortunate try, could have won the game.

Flood missed two first-half penalties
and again the spotlight will fall on a decision made by captain Chris
Robshaw when England were awarded a kickable penalty with just over a
minute remaining.

Last week, England were criticised
for not taking their points. Today, Robshaw changed his mind having
initially told Farrell to kick for touch.

Hands up: Chris Robshaw is closed down by Adriaan Strauss (left) and Francois Louw

Hands up: Chris Robshaw is closed down by Adriaan Strauss (left) and Francois Louw

Farrell slotted the penalty, but
England could not gather the restart and South Africa held on to extend
their unbeaten run in this fixture to 11 matches, dating back to 2006.

England had drawn heart from their 14-14 draw with South Africa in the third Test of the summer tour. Those lessons Rowntree referred to included the need to match the Springbok physicality.

Joe Launchbury was given his first international start while Alex Corbisiero, Tom Wood and Ben Morgan were brought back to bring some steel into the England pack. They all delivered.

Running free: Alex Goode breaks away from the clutches of Jannie du Plessis

Running free: Alex Goode breaks away from the clutches of Jannie du Plessis

Youngs justified Lancaster's decision
to promote him into the starting side with a clever display at
scrum-half, as did Mike Brown on the wing.

England reprised their tour tactic of
using two full-backs and the grim, wet conditions meant this was always
going to be an arm-wrestle in the rain at Twickenham.

England had to display their intent
from the outset and did, with Geoff Parling blocking Ruan Pienaar's box
kick and Robshaw pounced on Patrick Lambie to win the penalty.

Breaking away: Manu Tuilagi skips past Jean de Villiers

Breaking away: Manu Tuilagi skips past Jean de Villiers

Flood missed his shot at goal but England kept the pressure on as Brown claimed a confident high ball and escaped two defenders.

Parling and Morgan both piled forward
as England drove within five metres of the Springbok line. Chris Ashton
was wrapped up but England won a second penalty shot at goal for offside
and this time Flood made no mistake with the boot.

England defended resolutely when Flood
lost the ball as he tried to run from deep but Eben Etzebeth stole a
lineout and the Springboks earned a penalty which Lambie converted.

Clearing his lines: Ben Youngs gets a kick away despite the attentions of Duane Vermeulen

Clearing his lines: Ben Youngs gets a kick away despite the attentions of Duane Vermeulen

Flood returned from a brief spell in
the blood-bin to exchange penalties with Lambie but then missed a second
penalty shot at goal, earned by a strong England scrum.

Morgan crashed holes in the Springbok
defensive line but England could not capitalise and Lambie edged the
Springboks ahead for the first time in the match.

England came searing out of a scrappy
passage of play, dominated by the boot and some poor kick-chasing, with a
clean break from Alex Goode onto a clever ball from Ben Youngs.

Locked up: Joe Launchbury is tackled by Gurthro Steenkamp and Duane Vermeulen

Locked up: Joe Launchbury is tackled by Gurthro Steenkamp and Duane Vermeulen

But Flood's kick in behind skipped
dead in goal before Manu Tuilagi could get to it and England then wasted
a five-on-three overlap.

Just after the restart, South Africa extended their 9-6 half-time lead in a bizarre circumstances.
When Juande Kruger lost control as he
drove for the line, Ben Youngs tried to hack the ball clear but it
crashed into JP Pietersen.

The ball rebounded towards Morgan, who
could not gather it on his own line and Springboks flanker Alberts
pounced to score a try that was converted by Lambie.

Lancaster reacted to England falling 10 points down by sending on Farrell for Flood and they raised the intensity.

Off-balance: Toby Flood (front) and Ben Morgan get to grips with JP Pietersen

Off-balance: Toby Flood (front) and Ben Morgan get to grips with JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen could not take an
excellent box-kick from Ben Youngs and Morgan spread the play wide for
Tuilagi, who crashed through the South African defence.

A mistake from Farrell put England on
the back foot but they came storming out of defence with an interception
from Tuilagi inside his own 22.

Tuilagi powered downfield and then fed
Ashton but a poor pass to Brown, who should have come closer, checked
England's momentum and a promising move ended when Launchbury knocked
on.

Mixed fortunes: England were inconsistent in the line-out

Mixed fortunes: England were inconsistent in the line-out

England kept piling on the pressure,
helped by some poor South African kicking. Mako Vunipola crashed into
the Springbok 22 and England won another penalty when Francois Louw came
in off his feet.

Farrell converted it and then booted
England back into South African territory but again the Twickenham crowd
were left frustrated as Ashton knocked the ball forward.

England came again and, with a minute
remaining, earned the kickable penalty which Robshaw, eventually,
instructed Farrell to kick for goal.

Alex Corbisiero hungry for England return v South Africa

Alex wants pizza the action! New diet means England prop is hungry for return (let's hope he'll eat Springbok forwards for breakfast!)

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 21 November 2012

They have named a pizza after Alex Corbisiero at his favourite Italian restaurant, where his strict gluten-and wheat-free diet is catered for. The owners would be well advised to stock up with the necessary ingredients before Saturday evening.

After a match, the prop heads there for a slap-up meal and Saturday's opponents are sure to leave him with a major appetite. Corbisiero will return to the England front row, charged with galvanising the scrum and playing his part in quelling the might of imposing – and famously carnivorous – Springbok forwards.

The 24-year-old, who was born in New York, says he is in prime condition after overcoming a knee injury, thanks to the benefits of his regulated eating habits. The pizza named in his honour conforms to his precise requirements.

Using his crust: Alex Corbisiero is back to take on the Springboks

Using his crust: Alex Corbisiero is back to take on the Springboks

'There's a restaurant in Kingston called Bruschetta – it's a gluten-and wheat-free Italian restaurant,' said Corbisiero. 'A few of the boys go there now. After a game, when I want to have my “bad” meal, there are not many options so I usually go there. That's the pizza I always get and they've put it on the menu.

'It has a gluten-free base, with buffalo mozzarella which is free of cow's milk, Italian sausage, chicken and pepperoni. It's a nice one.'

Explaining the circumstances behind his healthy eating, he said: 'It's been a year-and-a-half now. I had a blood test – recommended by the nutritionist at London Irish – and it said I was highly intolerant to wheat and gluten. I cut them out and I feel so much better. It's been a massive gain for me and it's helped me keep strict with it rather than breaking it. I've lost a lot of body fat. I'm still heavy, but I've definitely lost excess fat.

'I don't eat wheat or dairy so that cuts out a lot of bad stuff. It keeps me on the straight and narrow. I always felt a bit uncomfortable on game days, especially my stomach. It took a few months, but I'm feeling better, not as lethargic. Digestion, gas, things like that are a lot more comfortable.'

Lifting his game: The prop is on a strict diet

Lifting his game: The prop is on a strict diet

Corbisiero's return to the England team is a big plus for head coach Stuart Lancaster, who needed some encouragement in light of the defeat against Australia last week.

Injury restricted the loosehead to one replacement appearance on tour in South Africa in June. He was forced to pull out of the last Test – which England drew in Port Elizabeth – at the 11th hour, so he harbours a hunger to confront the Boks at Twickenham.

Insisting that he is ready for the ordeal, after two LV Cup games for his club, Corbisiero said: 'When you come into Test rugby you're always going to have to get certain things right as a pack – scrum and lineout, breakdown, physicality. That's especially relevant when you're playing South Africa. We need to make sure we give ourselves the best platform to win.'

His international recall comes at the expense of Joe Marler, who suffered an injury and a few indignities last weekby end, when England's scrum was trumped by an unheralded Australian pack. Corbisiero understands the scrutiny that he and the rest of the home forwards will be under. He knows there is pressure to make amends.

'We have a point to prove,' he said. 'That's going to spur us on. We're going to focus on our attention to detail and our mindset to make sure we rectify that.

Point to prove: England want to make amends for defeat to the Wallabies

Point to prove: England want to make amends for defeat to the Wallabies

'It's not going to be easy against South Africa but we've got to prove that we are a good scrum. Hopefully we'll show that. The boys were a little beaten up but we've got our sleeves rolled up and we know we've got to put a lot of things right. Everyone's really positive and motivated and we're back on the horse.

'South Africa have a heavy pack. They're physical, they're strong, they work together and they work hard. They're very efficient, very confrontational and direct. They're one of the bigger-sized packs in world rugby and you need to meet that challenge.'

Corbisiero will set about putting his words into action, knowing that when he's done and whatever the outcome, a few miles down the road there is a pizza with his name on it.

England v Australia: Chris Ashton out to stun Wallabies again

Hang on to your hats! Try-hero Ashton out to stun the Wallabies again

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UPDATED:

00:54 GMT, 17 November 2012

Remember Ashton's memorable try

Click here to relive the magic moment

England are determined to kick-start a new era of home rule over the southern-hemisphere superpowers by claiming a third consecutive victory against Australia at Twickenham today.

When the Wallabies were last in town, Chris Ashton scored one of the great length-of-the-field tries and Stuart Lancaster's men go into the second of four QBE Internationals this autumn as favourites to beat the Wallabies and maintain the momentum established in the rout of Fiji last Saturday.

As the national team concluded their preparations yesterday, there was a clear desire to end a prolonged cycle of failure against the world’s top three nations.

Hat's your lot: Ashton returns to the scene of one of the game's most memorable scores

Hat's your lot: Ashton returns to the scene of one of the game's most memorable scores

Since their 2003 World Cup triumph, England have claimed just four wins at home against the combined might of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand — losing 11 times. ‘It is about time we started beating these teams coming over in the autumn,’ said coach Graham Rowntree.

‘We’re going in the right direction, we’ve got a good feeling about what we’re doing, we’ve got good leadership, but the proof is in the pudding. ‘We’ve got to start beating these teams at Twickenham.

The big three southern-hemisphere teams have an equal standing to me and they would be significant scalps for us. ‘We beat Australia here two years ago — a great victory — but this game will be a real marker of where we’re going and how good we are going to be.’

England expects: The hosts are hopeful of victory at rugby HQ

England expects: The hosts are hopeful of victory at rugby HQ

With the Springboks and All Blacks looming in England’s last two autumn matches, captain Chris Robshaw adopted a similar tone about the need to make Twickenham a feared venue again.

‘We always speak about the era leading up to 2003 when it was a fortress — teams came here and didn’t get much,’ he said. ‘Of course, that’s what we want but that doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a long time to create that atmosphere and that aura around the place. Our aim is to have that again.’

Robshaw suggested there is an edge to any encounter between England and Australia, adding: ‘The rivalry between the countries in all sport, whether it’s cricket or rugby, is brilliant. It’s exciting for the fans and as players you want to be part of that rivalry.’

Magic moment: Ashton dashed the length of the pitch to score this try against the Aussies two years ago

Magic moment: Ashton dashed the length of the pitch to score this try against the Aussies two years ago

Ireland 12 South Africa 16: match report

Ireland 12 South Africa 16: Sexton's points not enough to hold off powerful Sprinkboks

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UPDATED:

21:03 GMT, 10 November 2012

Ireland's hopes of humbling South Africa were picked apart in a one-sided second half of tonight's Guinness Series opener at Aviva Stadium.

Jonathan Sexton kicked four penalties as the Irish seized the 12-3 interval lead their dominance deserved, only for the Springboks to then ignite their power game.

Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar crossed for the night's only try in the 45th minute and Pat Lambie kicked 11 points as South Africa, who started as strong favourites, took control.

Turning it on: Ruan Pienaar (centre) scored the only try of the match against Ireland

Turning it on: Ruan Pienaar (centre) scored the only try of the match against Ireland

The result condemned Ireland to a fifth successive Test defeat, which is their worst losing run for 14 years as they failed to claim redemption for a painful 60-0 drubbing by New Zealand in June.

Missing the highly-influential Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell, Rory Best, Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney to injury, they entered the match unburdened by high expectations.

But despite the absence of six key personnel, they will be disappointed by their inability to dispatch opposition that was lethargic and pedestrian in the first half.

Ireland have won three of their last four meetings with South Africa and tonight was a missed opportunity to improve that sequence.

The absence of Lions captains O'Driscoll and O'Connell saw Jamie Heaslip lead the team for the first time and while he sought to inspire his side, he was sin-binned in the second half.

Full-back Simon Zebo, winning his second cap, passed an early test under the high ball and moments later Gordon D'Arcy launched an intelligent counter-attack that ended with a poor chip kick from Keith Earls.

Just 10 minutes into the game and South Africa had conceded four cheap penalties, two of which were sent between the uprights by Sexton.

It was an encouraging start by muscular Ireland, who were having few problems dealing with the Springboks' route one approach.

All in black: Ireland donned a full black strip so not to clash with the Sprinkboks' green

All in black: Ireland donned a full black strip so not to clash with the Sprinkboks' green

All in black: Ireland donned a full black strip so not to clash with the Sprinkboks' green

Earls knocked on just as he was sent through a gap by Sexton and the fly-half then took time to climb to his feet after halting a bulldozing run by JP Pietersen.

Lambie and Sexton exchanged penalties but Ireland were still playing most of the rugby, showing invention as they worked their way downfield.

D'Arcy was thriving in the absence of O'Driscoll as he welcomed the responsibility of being the senior figure in Ireland's midfield.

Repeatedly tested under the high ball, Tommy Bowe had impressed while man of the match Mike McCarthy and the Irish back row of Heaslip, Peter O'Mahony and Chris Henry were making their presence felt.

South Africa's composure crumbled as first Willem Alberts kneed Sexton in the ribs and then Pietersen was sent to the sin bin for using the shoulder while tackling Henry early.

Another three points from Sexton punished the Springboks' indiscipline as Ireland opened a 12-3 lead they fully merited.

The home side's superiority in broken play and out wide was evident, but they also looked happy to mix it with the bigger South African pack.

Sexton missed his first penalty of the evening and the half finished with Springbok scrum-half Pienaar falling short from long range.

McCarthy cut Eben Etzebeth in half with a bone-jarring hit just moments after Cian Healy had wobbled off to be assessed by a specialist in the concussion bin.

Point scoring: Jonathan Sexton kicked four penalties

Point scoring: Jonathan Sexton kicked four penalties

But South Africa were finally coming alive and almost crossed through hooker Adriaan Strauss at a line-out drive in a passage of play that saw Heaslip sin-binned for standing offside.

Scenting blood, the Springboks went for the jugular and were rewarded when Pienaar darted over from close range with Lambie converting.

The landscape of the match now look radically different with rejuvenated South Africa just two points behind.

Captain Jean de Villiers bulldozed through D'Arcy and Earls as referee Wayne Barnes offered Lambie another shot at goal which he took.

Ireland responded with a fiery passage of play that ended when Healy, who had passed his concussion test, was penalised for failing to release the ball.

Sexton and Lambie both fell short with a long-range kicks in a pressure-cooker final quarter of the match.
South Africa were now gaining a foothold at the scrum, winning two penalties in quick succession, the second of which Lambie steered between the uprights.

Ireland desperately chased the late score that would nudge them back into the lead, but were strangled out of the game by the canny Springboks.

Ben Foden blow for England after full-back told he needs surgery on ankle injury

Foden blow for England after full-back told he needs surgery on ankle injury

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UPDATED:

17:55 GMT, 20 September 2012

Ben Foden will miss England's QBE autumn internationals after it was confirmed he requires surgery on damaged ankle ligaments.

The Northampton full-back suffered the injury playing against Bath last Friday night and he is expected to be sidelined for between 10 and 12 weeks.

Crocked: Foden receives treatment to his ankle on Friday night

Crocked: Foden receives treatment to his ankle on Friday night

Mike Brown and Alex Goode both
started Tests at full-back on the summer tour of South Africa and will
be the leading contenders for the 15 jersey.

England open their autumn campaign
against Fiji before tackling Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on
consecutive Saturdays at Twickenham.

Foden has become an integral member of the England set-up since making his international debut in 2009, appearing in 27 of the last 28 Test matches.

'It is unfortunate for Ben who has had a good run in the side and is a valuable leader,' Lancaster said.

'But we have a number of back three players who are playing well and this offers a chance for them.'

Two of Foden's last three appearances
came on the wing in South Africa as Lancaster looked to counter the
Springboks' kicking game with two specialist full-backs.

Brown
started the first Test defeat before being ruled out of the tour with a
broken hand, opening the way for Goode to make his full debut in the
drawn third Test in Port Elizabeth.

Blow: Foden has been ruled out of autumn internationals

Blow: Foden has been ruled out of autumn internationals

If Foden is sidelined for 12 weeks, he could also miss the first four of Northampton's Heineken Cup group matches against Glasgow, Castres and the back-to-back fixtures with Ulster.

'Ben had been playing well at the start of this season and to lose him to injury is obviously disappointing,' said Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

'But we know that he is a dedicated professional and will work his hardest with our performance team to come back as a better and fitter player.

'In the meantime Ben's injury will give opportunities for the other back three players like James Wilson, Scott Armstrong and Noah Cato to show what they can do in the Saints first team.'

England captain Chris Robshaw hopes the loss of Foden – and any other injury absences – could have long-term benefits for England's bid to win the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil as it will give opportunities for other players to show they can step up to the plate.

Tom Croft, Ben Youngs and Alex Corbisiero are also injury doubts for the four-match autumn series.

And Robshaw believes if England are to topple reigning champions New Zealand in the World Cup, they will need to match the All Blacks' strength in depth.

'Unfortunately, injuries are something that happens in our sport and we have to be able to react and have faith in the players coming in, not just to do a good job but do a great job and put pressure on another player to get back in the side,' Robshaw said.

'That's what you want in the squad. If you look at New Zealand, if they have a couple of injuries they might go two players deep and still have world-class players in that position who come in and do a great job.

'That's where we want to be as a national side – to have two or three quality international players in every position, so that if someone has to come in, you know they're going to do an excellent job.'

New Zealand 21 South Africa 11: Aaron Smith brilliance makes it four wins from four

New Zealand 21 South Africa 11: Smith brilliance makes it four wins from four

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UPDATED:

11:42 GMT, 15 September 2012

Replacement half-back Aaron Smith scored an outstanding individual try to inspire New Zealand to victory over South Africa at Forsyth Barr Stadium in the Rugby Championship.

Smith, who had been dropped to the bench for a breach of team protocol last weekend, replaced Piri Weepu at half-time and scooted through the defence midway through the second half for the try which broke the 8-8 deadlock.

The All Blacks scored two tries to one to record their 14th Test win but the Springboks had their opportunities, particularly in goal-kicking where Morne Steyn, Frans Steyn and Johan Goosen combined for only two of nine attempts.

Trybound: Aaron Smith skips away from Duane Vermulen

Trybound: Aaron Smith skips away from Duane Vermulen

Rugby Championship table

New Zealand W 4 D 0 L 0 Pts 16
South Africa W 1 D 1 L 2 Pts 7
Australia W 1 D 0 L 2 Pts 4
Argentina W 0 D 1 L 2 Pts 2

South Africa missed two early opportunities, with wing Bryan Habana unable to hold an awkward pass with the line open and Frans Steyn missing a shot at goal from almost 50m on the angle.

But when the All Blacks infringed at a breakdown, Morne Steyn kicked truly from 36m to open the scoring after 18 minutes.

However, the All Blacks struck back immediately, hooker Andrew Hore making good ground and number eight Kieran Read laying on the pass to give full-back Israel Dagg a clear run to the line to make it 5-3.

Morne Steyn was to the right with a penalty from 44m and in front and the All Blacks swept back on to the attack.

Gutted: Jannie du Plessis hangs his head after defeat

Gutted: Jannie du Plessis hangs his head after defeat

Frans Steyn was just under the bar with a penalty attempt from almost 10m inside his own half, a reminder of what distance he is capable of.

The Springboks were giving as good as they received in the forward exchanges, with lock Flip van der Merwe prominent, but Morne Steyn missed his second consecutive penalty attempt.

He then missed two other attempts at goal and the Springboks had the poor return of one success out of six to help the All Blacks lead at the interval.

The All Blacks were fortunate to be ahead, though, as the Springboks had 58 per cent territory and forced six turnovers from the All Blacks while conceding two.

Clearing his lines: Dagg kicks away despite the attentions of Andries Bekker

Clearing his lines: Dagg kicks away despite the attentions of Andries Bekker

Habana threatened early in the second spell but lost the ball forward in the tackle of Aaron Smith and the chance was lost.

Habana, though, gave the Springboks the lead with a brilliant individual try eight minutes into the half. He raced from a line-out 40m out, chipped and re-gathered to score in the right corner.

But Morne Steyn missed again and Aaron Cruden kicked a neat penalty three minutes later to tie the scores at 8-8 as the arm wrestle continued.

Winger Cory Jane had been safe under the high ball for the All Blacks and made another fine take as the Springboks tried to pressurise New Zealand's back three.

Crunching: Tendai Mtawarira is tackled by Aaron Cruden

Crunching: Tendai Mtawarira is tackled by Aaron Cruden

South Africa were kicking too much ball away and the All Blacks made them pay when Smith dummied and sidestepped through the defence from 25m out to score a gem of a try.

South Africa suffered another blow when replacement prop Dean Greyling was sin-binned as he dived indiscriminately into a ruck.

Johan Goosen took over from the out-of-sorts Morne Steyn but missed with a long-range attempt from 55m to make it one goal from eight for the Springboks.

But he was on target from 39m soon after and it was 15-11 with 11 minutes left.

Cruden's two late penalties added gloss to the final score of 21-11 as the hosts held on.