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England 12-11 South Africa: Owen Farrell kicks hosts to Test victory

England 12-11 South Africa: Owen Farrell kicks hosts to victory in tight Twickenham Test after Springboks star Handre Pollard hits post with late penalty

  • England edged out South Africa in a tight Test at Twickenham to start their Autumn schedule with a victory
  • Handre Pollard kicked the Springboks into an early lead before an Owen Farrell penalty levelled it up
  • Sibusiso Nkosi scored the opening try of the contest on 34 minutes but the conversion was missed
  • Farrell kicked another three points then England took the lead for the first time through an Elliot Daly penalty
  • Pollard edged his side back ahead but Farrell hit back as the visitors were punished for collapsing the scrum
  • South Africa had a chance to win it after 76 minutes but Pollard hit the outside of the post from long range 

Misfits 1-0 Monsters. England’s patchwork team rode their luck at Twickenham but escaped with a guts and glory victory.

Forget Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi, this was a day for the outsiders.

Mark Wilson, the unfashionable northerner, was man-of-the-match and Harry Williams, the long-haired prop who played in the Championship, signed off the victory by booting the ball into the heavens.

Relief for England. Relief for Eddie Jones. 

England edge out South Africa in a tight Test at Twickenham on Saturday to start their Autumn schedule with a victory

England edge out South Africa in a tight Test at Twickenham on Saturday to start their Autumn schedule with a victory

The England players celebrate together at the final whistle while their opponents wear disappointed looks of their faces

The England players celebrate together at the final whistle while their opponents wear disappointed looks of their faces

England's players appear very relieved after hanging on to win a very competitive Test match at Twickenham on Saturday

England’s players appear very relieved after hanging on to win a very competitive Test match at Twickenham on Saturday

South Africa were the dominant side for an hour but England absorbed their punches before striking in the final quarter.

Ben Moon, the debutant prop, smashed Duane Vermeulen and England were on the right side of referee Angus Gardner.

TEAMS

England XV: 15-Daly, 14-Nowell, 13-Slade, 12-Te’o, 11-May, 10-Farrell, 9-Youngs; 1-Hepburn, 2-Hartley, 3-Sinckler, 4-Itoje, 5-Kruis, 6-Shields, 7-Curry, 8-Wilson

Replacements: 16-George, 17-Moon, 18-Williams, 19-Ewels, 20-Mercer, 21-Care, 22-Ford, 23-Ashton

South Africa XV: 15-Willemse, 14-Nkosi, 13-Kriel, 12-De Allende, 11-Dyantyi, 10-Pollard, 9-Van Zyl, 8-Whiteley, 7-Vermeulen, 6-Kolisi, 5-PS Du Toit, 4-Etzebeth, 3-Malherbe, 2-Marx, 1-Kitshoff

Replacements: 16-Mbonambi, 17-T Du Toit, 18-Louw, 19-Snyman, 20-De Jager, 21-Papier, 22-Jantjies, 23-Esterhuizen

Hearts were in mouths when Owen Farrell caught Andre Esterhuizen with a high shot in the final play, but he got away with it..

This was a smash-and-grab victory.

Rarely will England be so grateful for a two-point deficit at half-time.

They were outthought and outmuscled, failing to string together any phases in the Springbok 22 before the break.

Maro Itoje conceded three penalties and was yellow carded inside 15 minutes, while the back-three were hounded by high balls from Handre Pollard.

At the scrum, England survived the first five put-ins before Steven Kitshoff began to dominate Kyle Sinckler.

Damian de Allende, the midfielder, ran over people while Sibusio Nkosi, the magician, ran around people.

The military band played Mission Impossible before kick-off but, somehow, England stayed alive.

Handling errors in the red zone undermined South Africa’s territory and Malcolm Marx – supposedly the new Bok star – was left of centre with his lineout throwing.

Pollard kicked the Boks in front but Owen Farrell, who led the team out as co-captain, was equal from the tee. 

Sibusiso Nkosi scores the opening try of the game as he dives over the line to put South Africa ahead after 34 minutes

Sibusiso Nkosi scores the opening try of the game as he dives over the line to put South Africa ahead after 34 minutes

Henry Slade (right) tries in vain to stop Nkosi as the South African winger touches down near the corner flag at Twickenham

Henry Slade (right) tries in vain to stop Nkosi as the South African winger touches down near the corner flag at Twickenham

South Africa's players celebrate the game's opening try as their England counterparts look frustrated after falling behind

South Africa’s players celebrate the game’s opening try as their England counterparts look frustrated after falling behind

Owen Farrell, playing at fly-half, sizes up a penalty for England during a tough first half for the hosts at Twickenham

Owen Farrell, playing at fly-half, sizes up a penalty for England during a tough first half for the hosts at Twickenham

Farrell kicks three points from a penalty to keep England in touching distance as the clock ticks towards the interval

Farrell kicks three points from a penalty to keep England in touching distance as the clock ticks towards the interval

The Boks had 79 per cent of the territory in the first half an hour but the result? 3-3.

Moments later, the resilient English defence was breached.

Dylan Hartley slipped off Pollard and Brad Shields slipped off De Allende. Quick hands followed, with Warren Whiteley and Aphiwe Dyantyi tipping the ball onto Nkosi, who scored down the left.

Cameras panned to Faf de Klerk in the crowd. Politics ruled the scrum-half out of this match and South Africa could have been 10 points clear with his wriggly finishing ability close to the line.

Instead, England rode their luck. Farrell kicked a second penalty and, hanging on by their fingertips, they trailed 8-6 at the break.

Eddie Jones sent on Ben Moon at half-time in a desperate bid to shore up the scrum. Curry limped off moments later and Zach Mercer was introduced for his Test debut.

And then, out of nowhere, England were in front. 

The England team leave the field 8-6 at half-time behind after being outplayed by South Africa in the opening 40 minutes

The England team leave the field 8-6 at half-time behind after being outplayed by South Africa in the opening 40 minutes

South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk (centre) watches from the stands alongside his girlfriend at Twickenham Stadium

South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk (centre) watches from the stands alongside his girlfriend at Twickenham Stadium

South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth (left) is tackled by England flanker Brad Shields during a bruising international Test in London

South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth (left) is tackled by England flanker Brad Shields during a bruising international Test in London

Growing in confidence, De Allende was guilty of overplaying and then conceded a penalty for a breakdown infringement.

Elliot Daly lined up the penalty from 46 metres and, for the first time, England were in front.

Twickenham came alive. Ben Te’o put in one of those rib-crunching tackles on Siya Kolisi and the noise echoed through south-west London.

After 52 minutes England finally carried the ball into the Bok 22.

Jamie George replaced Hartley and Chris Ashton was introduced after 64 minutes for his first England appearances since 2014 – prompting one of the loudest cheers of the afternoon.

The lead, however, swung once more.

George Kruis was penalised on the deck and Pollard kicked three points yet Ashton made an immediate impact with his running lines.

But it was Williams who brought the key moment from the bench. The prop won a scrum penalty and ice man Farrell struck it perfectly from wide left.

South Africa rallied once more but England hung on. Just.

Elliot Daly kicks a long-range penalty to give England a 9-8 lead as the hosts go ahead for the first time in Saturday's Test

Elliot Daly kicks a long-range penalty to give England a 9-8 lead as the hosts go ahead for the first time in Saturday’s Test

A fully-focussed Farrell takes his points tally for the day to nine as he copes with the pressure to nail a 72nd-minute penalty

A fully-focussed Farrell takes his points tally for the day to nine as he copes with the pressure to nail a 72nd-minute penalty

South Africa No 10 Polland stands with his hands on his head after narrowly missing a long-range penalty in the dying minutes

South Africa No 10 Polland stands with his hands on his head after narrowly missing a long-range penalty in the dying minutes

Farrell makes a challenge on South Africa's Andre Esterhuizen which is deemed legal after the ref checks with the TV official

Farrell makes a challenge on South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen which is deemed legal after the ref checks with the TV official

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