Saturday, 27 November 2010

England 11 South Africa 21 - Beaten and Beaten Up

You have to say that England were well beaten this afternoon and despite some fine individual performances in the pack, South Africa provided the home team with a lesson in how to play with sustained physicality. A bruised and battered England team sadly let in a soft try late on, but both sides deserve credit for an excellent defensive performance. This must count as one of the most physical and at times legitimately brutal international games of the recent past.

There is no doubt that the loss of Crofts and Flood had a profound impact on England. The Leicester flanker had made an effective start to the game and he once again impressed with his fine breaks and ball carrying ability.  His line out skills were also missed on a day when South Africa ruled the air with a near faultless display of lineout mastery.

Without the tempo and quick ball of recent weeks, England struggled to establish any cutting edge and variation in attack. At times they look jaded after the demanding last month, with Youngs not offering any where near the threat of recent weeks. On the plus side it was another monumental performance full of athletism from Courtney Lawes who at the age of twenty one looks completely at home at test level. It has also been a successful month for Andrew Sheridan and it is good to report that his rehabilitation looks complete with his work rate being very encouraging. The stock of Mark Cueto has also been on the up and he must have cemented his place in a back three that will continue to threaten any opponents.

South Africa were highly impressive today delivering on all fronts after the inconsistency of recent weeks and it will be interesting to see whether this win provides Peter De Villiers with a little more security. His big guns certainly came up trumps for him today.

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