England ended their tour of South Africa on a positive note with a draw 14 – 14 against the Sprinboks in the third and final test on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
REUTERS - England avoided a series whitewash when they battled to a 14-14 draw with South Africa in the third and final test on Saturday.
The visitors ended a nine-match losing streak against the Springboks as they secured only the second draw between the two teams.
Scrumhalf Danny Care notched the only try for England while flyhalf Toby Flood kicked one penalty and his replacement Owen Farrell booted two more.
The hosts responded with a try from wing JP Pietersen and three penalties from Morne Steyn but the flyhalf did not enjoy his best day with the boot as he missed two penalties and one conversion attempt.
"England have learnt from every single game and they have been very competitive," Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer told reporters.
"The first two tests could have gone either way. They are a quality side and they will build on this."
"It will be tough when we go to England in November. They have a lot of guts and a lot of character and they showed that tonight," added Meyer.
South Africa though had only themselves to blame for failing to win on Saturday, committing a plethora of handling errors and producing some aimless tactical kicking against an England team who defended well.
Flood and Steyn traded early penalties but England’s ball retention was superior in the first quarter.
Care, recalled after Ben Youngs injured his shoulder in the second test, caught South Africa off-guard with a quick tap penalty which led to the scrumhalf diving over for a try despite the attentions of two defenders.
Flood missed the conversion as England went 8-3 up after 11 minutes.
Care’s try seemed to invigorate the Springboks and Steyn reduced the deficit with a long-range penalty before another penalty in the 28th minute helped the hosts take the lead for the first time.
South Africa’s much-vaunted big ball carriers then started to dominate although both sides were hampered by the intermittent drizzle which began falling soon after kickoff.
England struck the first blow of the second half when Farrell booted a close-range penalty while South Africa reverted to their bad habits with a series of handling mistakes.
The home team’s cause was helped when England captain Dylan Hartley was yellow-carded in the 51st minute for intentionally slowing the ball down at a ruck.
Pietersen then took a 62nd-minute pass from replacement scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and touched down in the corner for an unconverted try.
Farrell, though, saved the day for England by kicking his second penalty to make it 14-14.
"I’ve got mixed feelings in terms of the result," said England coach Stuart Lancaster. "We are desperately disappointed not to have got the win"
"But on reflection there are a lot of positives we can take from the tour. We’ve gathered a lot of experience."
Date created : 2012-06-23