England became unstuck by some lackadaisical play, and self inflicted errors as they succumbed to a second successive three point defeat to a southern hemisphere superpower in a week at the QBE internationals. England skipper Chris Robshaw's team had been retained mainly from the New Zealand test; but for one change due to injury, and blew their chance to redeem themselves from last week's loss after a plucky performance from the Springboks executed with precision under pressure.
However it would be to easy to say that this was another important loss just 10 months away from the start of the sport's most important global tournament. The errors were mostly self-inflicted. The Springboks, who are ranked 2nd in the world behind only to the mighty All Blacks, were able to hold things together when they went down to 14 men and converted an excellent try in the 53rd minute finished by forward Schalk Burger.
This was a turning point for England in the match as they started really well in the second half and were dominant up until that point. There was a first try for prop Davey Wilson in his 39th test; and also another for replacement number 8 Ben Morgan, both converted by Owen Farrell which had clawed England back to tie the score at 20-20.
After the South African forward Burger latched on to a line-out drive and managed to score, the momentum swung firmly back to the visitors, this was even more augmented with the dismissal of Dylan Hartley to the sin-bin five minutes later after a stupid stamp on Duane Vermeulen.
When England's Dave Attwood gave away a penalty for grabbing Botha in a line out, the Springboks fly-half Lambie kicked for goal to put South Africa eight points clear at 20-28. This moment deflated the Twickenham crowd; after Wilson and Morgan's tries were a positive response from the South African's first-half dominance. Theirs was to be an alteration in the form of George Ford, replacing kicker Owen Farrell who kicked a penalty and got England right back into the match at 23-28.
There is a case that he should start the next two internationals against Samoa and Australia after a solid kicking performance.
Yet England blundered their chances to get back into it, two line-outs in Bok territory ended with Brad Barritt being left isolated with no support, before an England throw-in was stolen by the South African's and Lambie went down the other end after Ford kicked the ball out, and scored a drop goal to move the score to a 8 point difference with only about three minutes to play. England responded well by going down the other end and turning over possession from the restart, and found Brad Barrit to score a late try in the corner to make the score 28-31. Ford was unable to convert from a tight angle, and with his miss ending England's hopes of getting something from the test.
England coach Stuart Lancaster proclaimed "We need to be smarter in the way we apply ourselves". He had promised some changes for the Samoa test, although this would have been the case anyway. The forwards were formidable against the All Blacks in set pieces, however the team still needs tightening up in all the other areas, after they digest a 12th loss in a row against the South Africans..