England 27-26 South Africa: Last-gasp Smith kick earns measure of revenge in barnstorming Test

By Sports Desk November 20, 2021

Marcus Smith nailed a last-gasp penalty as England rounded out their November internationals with a 27-26 win over South Africa in a barnstorming Twickenham Test.

Making only a third Test start, the unflappable Smith made the decisive contribution in a match that looked like getting away from the White Rose after an enterprising performance was mixed with ill-discipline.

England outscored South Africa three tries to one but a penalty count of 18 allowed the Springboks to stay in the game and the visitors were leading until the last minute.

However, the win marks a measure of revenge for Eddie Jones' side, who were beaten in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final the last time these two sides went head-to-head.

England were dominant in the first half and Manu Tuilagi crossed after fine work from Smith opened the play for Henry Slade to make the long pass.

The nerveless Handre Pollard put South Africa on the board prior to Freddie Steward showing great power to bundle over from close range and extend England's lead.

But England's lack of composure at the breakdown meant the lead was only five points at the break, with Pollard nailing three more kicks to Smith's one, and more poor discipline saw South Africa inch ahead thanks to Pollard and Elton Jantjies kicks.

A fine breakaway score from Joe Marchant was answered by an unconverted score from Makazole Mapimpi after Will Stuart was sin-binned, and Frans Steyn kicked another penalty for South Africa.

But Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi saw yellow himself, before another penalty in front of the posts in the final minute allowed Smith to have the final say.


Smith, Steward offer bright glimpse of the future

Smith may only be in the infancy of his international career but he already looks an assured presence at this level.

Full-back Steward put in a fine performance at full-back too. The pair look a very exciting prospect for an England side who played with plenty of attacking intent and backed up a fine win over Australia last time out.

Young front row survives the test but penalties a worry

Much of the narrative ahead of this one was whether the inexperienced duo of hooker Jamie Blamire and prop Bevan Rodd could cope against South Africa's pack.

For the most part they passed the test superbly, but for all their endeavour England were guilty of giving away far too many cheap penalties. On another day, and against a player of the quality of Pollard who hurt them so badly in the World Cup final, it could have been far more costly.

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