South Africa beat England 42-39 in first Test in Johannesburg

Mike Brown scores
Mike Brown scored the first of England's three quick tries - but the tourists ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard
First Test: Australia v Ireland
South Africa (29) 42
Tries: De Klerk, Nkosi 2, Le Roux, Dyantyi Cons: Pollard 4 Pens: Pollard 3
England (27) 39
Tries: Brown, Daly, Farrell, Itoje, May Cons: Farrell 4 Pens: Daly, Farrell

England lost their fourth Test in a row as South Africa launched an astonishing fightback to win the first Test.

England raced into a 24-3 lead as Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell crossed for converted tries.

But the Springboks led 29-27 at the break via Faf de Klerk, S'busiso Nkosi (2) and Willie le Roux tries.

Aphiwe Dyantyi then went over for the hosts, and two Handre Pollard penalties meant scores from Maro Itoje and Jonny May were not enough for England.

It meant new South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus secured his first victory since replacing Allister Coetzee.

The two sides meet again next Saturday in the second Test in Bloemfontein.

Billy's back - what about England?

It was an astonishing first 40 minutes in Johannesburg, with England - so poor in recent games - playing near perfect rugby at the start.

Number eight Billy Vunipola, fit again and playing his first Test for more than a year, fielded the kick-off and was back on his feet to make the third carry of the game too.

South Africa were clearly all too aware of the threat he posed, and in England's first attack his mere presence was enough to fix two South Africa defenders and create the space for Brown out wide.

From then on, a high-octane game largely passed him by, and South Africa's Duane Vermeulen was the standout number eight on the pitch.

With plenty of possession and field position in the opening quarter, George Ford shone at fly-half for England.

It was his neat pass that put May through to feed Brown, and he soon freed the winger once more to set up Farrell.

In between, Daly - who had boomed over a penalty from his own 10m line - also raced over and it looked as though England were back on track.

Owen Farrell
England were in the ascendancy in the opening 20 minutes of the first half, with skipper Owen Farrell scoring one of three tries during that period - 55,260 inside Ellis Park watch on

New-look South Africa's English connection

To say Erasmus and new captain Siya Kolisi were experiencing a baptism of fire would be a huge understatement.

England were almost out of sight on the scoreboard, and on pitch the Boks, when they finally managed to secure some ball, were making a stream of errors.

Within a two-minute period Lukhanyo Am dropped the ball, De Klerk passed behind Vermeulen, and Kolisi passed only to grass, before a threatening attack was turned over by England inside their 22.

But the Boks were determined to mark the dawn of a new era by playing with pace and width, and it was the two England-based players - Sale scrum-half De Klerk and Wasps full-back Le Roux - who engineered the most spectacular of turnarounds.

De Klerk, all fizz around the fringes, sniped over from close range for the first try, and Le Roux, the gliding playmaker up from full-back who delivered the passes that set the Boks' electric wingers running free, raced over for their fourth.

In between, the sizzling Nkosi scored twice - the first when Daly failed to deal with his chip ahead - and the Boks' commitment to attack had been handsomely rewarded.

Siya Kolisi (centre)
Siya Kolisi (centre) was the first black player to captain a South Africa team

Slow, quick, quick

If the first half had been dominated by attack, the start of the second saw defence come to the fore.

South Africa assumed control of possession and territory and would have been out of sight had Pollard managed to land more than one of his first three penalty attempts.

England seemed to be struggling with the altitude and their last chance surely went when Mako Vunipola was yellow-carded for making contact with De Klerk as he hoisted a kick.

The Boks made the extra man count as 6ft 9in second row RG Snyman nonchalantly sent Dyantyi over untouched - but back came England.

Itoje made up for conceding a couple of penalties by stretching over before Pollard finally made the game safe for the Boks with a penalty.

Even then the scoring was not done, May racing clear for a typically elusive score, but it was the Springboks who emerged triumphant from a compelling first match of what looks like being a gripping three-Test series.

Man of the match - Faf de Klerk

Faf de Klerk
The scrum-half - brought back by new coach Erasmus for his first Test in two years - sets the tempo for South Africa, and that tempo is fast, aggressive and relentless. Excellent for Sale Sharks in the English Premiership last season, he maintained that ebullient form on his return to the international stage

What they said - 'We have to stick together'

England captain Owen Farrell told Sky Sports: "We got off to a good start but then a few errors crept in. Our discipline then let us down.

"We have to look at the game and make sure we stick together. This will make us better and get the best out of us."

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi on Sky Sports: "It was a beautiful game. We worked really hard to make sure we were ready for this game, and thanks to everyone for coming out to support us.

"I didn't need to say anything [when England scored their third try]. We knew what we were doing wrong, we just had to pick the tempo up and we did that and it worked in our favour."

The pundits' view - 'A lot of places where England can improve'

Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson

"England were good at times - playing away from home, at altitude. They nearly turned it around at the very end. But again, their poor discipline cost England. Individual errors keep costing them, and that's what the England management will be disappointed with.

"It's a tough start to be in Ellis Park - England will be better in the next two Tests. They've got a lot to look at and a lot of places where they can improve."

What they said on social

Will Carling on Twitter
Brian Moore on Twitter
Former South Africa cricket captain Graeme Smith on twitter


South Africa: Le Roux; Nkosi, Am, De Allende, Dyantyi, Pollard; De Klerk, Vermeulen, Du Preez, Kolisi, Mostert, Snyman, W Louw, Mbonambi, Mtawarira.

Replacements: Van der Merwe, Kitshoff, T du Toit, P du Toit, Notshe, I Van Zyl, Jantjies, Gelant.

England: Daly; May, Slade, Farrell, Brown; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Isiekwe, Robshaw, T Curry, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Marler, Williams, Shields, Hill, Spencer, Francis, Solomona.

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