Marcus Smith shoots a penalty at the end as England beat South Africa in a thrilling Test at Twickenham
England 27-26 South Africa: Marcus Smith shoots a penalty at the end as Eddie Jones’s men defeat the world champions in a thrilling test at Twickenham
- England avenged defeat in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final with a thrilling victory
- Marcus Smith shoots a penalty at the end to secure England’s third win of the fall
- Manu Tuilagi and Freddie Steward scored first-half attempts to put England up 14-3
- The Springboks came back in the second half and led 26-24 with one minute left.
Marcus Smith maintained the courage to shoot a last-gasp penalty as England avenged their defeat in the 2019 World Cup final by defeating South Africa 28-27 in a gripping climax for the autumn.
Smith kicked the deciding points with just over a minute to play to prevent the Springboks from completing a comeback win on an afternoon of great drama at Twickenham.
Eddie Jones’s men overcame the early loss of Manu Tuilagi, who was injured while scoring the first try, to build a 17-6 lead with standout Freddie Steward also crossing.
Marcus Smith took the crucial penalty when England defeated South Africa 27-26 on Saturday.
South Africa showed resilience in the face of the storm, doggedly defending their line and relying on Handre Pollard’s boot knowing they had won their last three games despite losing at half time.
At times England looked like victims willing to give away penalty after penalty and with their lead eroded by Pollard, they seemed increasingly powerless to stop the change of momentum.
For much of the second half they were entrenched within their 22s, fighting hard for every yard and Pollard finally kicked the Springboks in the 64th minute.
With England trailing 26-24 at the end of the second half, Smith stood his ground to win the game.
The England fly-half hit the crucial penalty through the posts to secure a famous victory.
Defenses had reigned, but in the space of four minutes they were momentarily shattered as Raffi Quirke and Makazole Mapimpi exchanged deft attempts to usher in a nerve-racking final 10 minutes.
Francois Steyn took a penalty, but South Africa saw captain Siya Kolisi being thrown in the trash for the final five minutes and England pounced on the 22-year-old Smith when the Springboks were penalized for losing control.
Despite all the pre-match focus on the threat coming from the world champions’ set pieces, they came off worse in two scrums and then a lineout, providing an early platform for England to attack.
Manu Tuilagi opened the scoring for England early on when he landed in the corner.
The Sale center, however, injured his hamstring in the process and left the field shortly after.
Freddie Steward scored his second try in as many tests as he extended England’s lead to 14-3
Smith and Henry Slade, who pressured Steward for the man of the match award, created the space for Tuilagi to charge into the corner, but it was a bittersweet moment as Sale’s center was injured and limped off, his afternoon over.
Jonny May invited pressure on his team by making two glaring mistakes near his line, but once the danger was overcome, England used a scrum to launch a fresh attack with Slade floating the long ball towards Max Malins.
Using his speed, Malins almost got to the line and once May had led, Ben Youngs sent Steward from close range with two tacklers unable to stop his powerful surge.
Three Pollard penalties kept South Africa on the hunt and they were encouraged by England’s lapses of discipline as the lead deteriorated to just 17-12 as the half-hour mark passed.
Raffi Quirke scored his first England attempt to put the host ahead with 15 minutes to go
England’s celebrations didn’t last long, as the Springboks fought back almost immediately.
Makazole Mapimpi responded to Quirke’s scoring to put South Africa ahead with a late try
But only the hosts posed a ball-in-hand threat as they threatened at 22 over and over again with influential Slade and Malins.
However, repeated interventions by referee Andrew Brace sent them back, and when Smith scored a drop-goal, another attack had been for nothing.
Four minutes into the second half, the Bomb Squad came in and, for the first time, South Africa caught fire as Kolisi prowled the touchline.
The tables were turning when Pollard missed the posts twice and England conceded scrum penalties, but the Springboks now had the wind in their sails.
South Africa captain Siya Kolisi was sent to the sin bin for the final five minutes
Pollard successfully readjusted his sights to cut the deficit to two points and only a desperate defense over the line prevented South Africa’s increasingly influential maul from breaking the cover-up.
The Springboks first took the lead through Pollard, but England’s midfield conjured a moment of magic when Slade put Joe Marchant through a gap and Quirke was available to take the goal pass.
Will Stuart was condemned to sin for entering the side and South Africa constructed a skillful try topped by Makazole Mapimpi.
Steyn was on target to put the tourists in front, but with Kolisi out, England rebounded heroically and Smith delivered the killing blow.