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European Rugby

WalesWales have made three changes to their side to face South Africa on Saturday, with Gethin Jenkins, Scott Baldwin and Liam Williams all coming into the starting fifteen.

Jenkins and Baldwin will link up with Samson Lee to form the same frontrow that started the clash against Fiji a fortnight ago.

The rest of the pack remains unchanged from last weekend’s game against the world champions New Zealand, with Jake Ball partnering Alun Wyn Jones in the second row and Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau lining up alongside captain Sam Warburton.

Ospreys halfbacks Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue their partnership as do the record breaking centre duo of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies.

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon returns to the Australian starting lineup in one of three changes ahead of their final year-end Test, against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

With Tevita Kuridrani unavailable due to a low-grade ankle injury, Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has been selected at outside centre, which allows Rob Horne to earn a starting position on the wing.

The starting line-up is otherwise unchanged with McMahon part of a back row including captain Michael Hooper and Ben McCalman, locks Sam Carter and Rob Simmons, and a front row of James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a and Sekope Kepu.

In the backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley continue their play-making partnership,Matt Toomua joins Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres, with a back three consisting of Israel Folau, Rob Horne and Henry Speight.

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Rupeni CaucaunibucaFormer Fiji wing Rupeni Caucaunibuca has ended his unhappy second stint with French second division side Agen by mutual consent.

Caucaunibuca, more commonly referred to simply as Caucau, had played only 87 minutes for the Pro D2 side this season, having returned for a second spell following a highly successful first stint from 2004-09.

Back then, when Agen were in the French Top 14, Caucau twice finished as top try-scorer in the league.

He moved on to giants Toulouse in 2010 and then in 2012 returned to Northland in New Zealand, where he had also played Super Rugby for the Blues.

Agen said the explosive 34-year-old had asked to have his contract terminated.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Cardiff Blues’ new signing Gareth Anscombe is keen to impress Wales coach Warren Gatland and force his way into the Welsh Six Nations squad.

The Welsh qualified junior All Black made his debut for the Blues last weekend and was the shining light in their 28-13 defeat to Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

The utlity back is determined to muscle his way into the Wales fold for the Six Nations by steering his new side to victories against European Cup Pool One qualification rivals London Irish in their back-to-back clashes next month.

“I’m a pretty driven guy and now that I’m over here it’s the goal to play for Wales. So, I guess the next step may be the Six Nations.

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard in action for Munster against Newport Gwent Dragons

South African centre Pat Howard admits he is ready for whatever comes his way as he bids to build on his first appearance for Munster.

Howard began a three-month contract with the Irish province at the start of the month and got his first taste of the Guinness PRO12 at the weekend.

The 22-year-old featured off the bench as Munster made light work of seeing off Newport Gwent Dragons 38-12 in their return to Guinness PRO12 action.

Howard arrived at Munster to bolster the options in midfield due to injuries to Keith Earls and Cian Bohane with an Irish derby with Ulster next up.

Munster will then break for European action and Howard insists he is acclimatising well and relishing the challenges that lie ahead both domestically and on the continent.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani has been ruled out of Saturday’s match against England at Twickenham with an ankle injury.

The in-form Wallabies centre picked up the injury early in the second half of their 26-23 defeat to Ireland. Tests on Monday revealed a low grade tear, meaning Kuridrani won’t be available for the match against England, although he should be clear by the time Super Rugby rolls around.

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BarbariansThe Irish Rugby Football Union and The Barbarian Football Club have confirmed on Monday that they will play a match at Thomond Park, Limerick on Thursday 28 May 2015.

The fixture forms part of the Barbarians’ Summer Tour, which also features a game against England at Twickenham on Sunday 31 May.

The year 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Barbarian rugby, making its Summer Tour fixtures against Ireland and England even more special.

Irish Rugby Football Union President Louis Magee said: “This promises to be a truly memorable occasion as both the IRFU and Munster welcome the Barbarians back to Ireland again. The celebrated Barbarians brand of rugby will bring an entertaining game to Thomond Park and one which I am sure Ireland and rugby fans will look forward to seeing.”

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Aaro Mauger

Aaro Mauger

Crusaders Assistant Coach, Aaron Mauger, has accepted the Head Coach role with his old Leicester Tigers club from the 2015 / 2016 season.

Mauger, who will complete his third Super Rugby season as Assistant Coach with the Crusaders in 2015, played 53 games for the Leicester Tigers between 2007 and 2010 and captained the side for much of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

He says it is a dream opportunity to return to a club that he is so fond of, in a head coach capacity.

“I have awesome memories of my time at Leicester as a player and it is a place I will very happily return to.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to do that as the head coach for the club and the timing is right for me to grab that opportunity.

“My aim is to help create the framework for Leicester to once again be amongst the top clubs in European and world rugby.

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Four International Tests overlapped or at least partly overlapped one another between 18:30 to almost midnight on Saturday 22 November 2014, SA Time.
Seeing as all 4 matches were broadcast LIVE on TV in South Africa… although on 2 different SuperSport channels, we hosted all FOUR in one GLOBAL ARTICLE!

 

IrelandAustraliaIreland (20) 26 / 23 (20) Wallabies (Final Score)

Ireland and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 BST & GMT, 03:30 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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WalesNew ZealandWales (3) 16 / 34 (3) All Blacks (Final Score)

Wales and the New Zealand All Blacks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 19:30 SA Time (17:30 BST & GMT, 06:30 Sunday NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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EnglandSamoaEngland (13) 28 / 9 (6) Samoa (Final Score)

England and Samoa did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Twickenham, London, England at 21:00 SA Time (19:00 BST & GMT, 09:00 Sunday Samoa Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

*******************

FranceArgentinaFrance (3) 13 / 18 (15) Los Pumas (Final Score)

France and the Argentinian Pumas did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT, 17:00 Arg Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

*******************

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CanadaThree changes to Canada’s starting XV have been announced by Head Coach Kieran Crowley for Saturday’s test match against Romania in Bucharest to close out 2014 and the year-end tour.

Captain Tyler Ardron, who has been unavailable throughout Canada’s November tour so far due to injury, will lead the side from the number eight position, while Jon Phelan slots in at second-row beside veteran Jamie Cudmore and Pat Parfrey comes off the bench to start at flyhalf.

The rest of the side remains unchanged from last weekend’s narrow 23-13 loss to Samoa, where a late dropped pass gifted Samoa an easy try to snatch away a potential historic victory for Crowley’s outfit.

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Exodus

European clubs targeting Springboks to join their cash-flush clubs after next year’s Rugby World Cup will this time have more of a fight on their hands than before, after the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) Springbok contracts are likely to be enforced with more vigour.

In recent days we’ve seen growing reports of Boks that may be heading overseas after the Rugby World Cup. This week it was Duane Vermeulen’s link with a French club and Bath – the latter willing to offer around R7.8-million a year for the IRB Player of the year nominee’s services.

Previously both Flip van der Merwe and Eben Etzebeth have been linked with moves overseas to French clubs while sources in France tell of Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, Willie le Roux and even Jan Serfontein being privately courted with offers to go overseas.

However, here is the catch. Those with Springbok contracts cannot enter into any negotiations with any club before 1 July 2015, leaving them a matter of 2 months to sort out their post-World Cup careers before the showpiece event takes place.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

New Zealand take on Wales at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday with no Dan Carter on the teamsheet, young gun Beauden Barrett entrusted to drive the All Blacks around the park.

Barrett has spent most of the last two weeks simulating English and Scottish attackers as he missed out on selection for the 24-16 victory over the latter behind Carter and Colin Slade, while he came on for Aaron Cruden for the last quarter in the 24-21 win at Twickenham.

But coach Steve Hansen has had no qualms about throwing the 23-year-old Hurricanes playmaker a chance for a rare start in a match-up in which Wales’ last victory came way back in 1953.

“We’ve got total belief in him though, otherwise we wouldn’t have put him in there,” Hansen said, adding that a fly-half’s role was simple.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

Keven Mealamu

Keven Mealamu

Richie McCaw will become the first player to captain the All Blacks in 100 Tests when he leads New Zealand against Wales on Saturday in his 137th Test.

The 33-year-old flank was named to captain the All Blacks for the match in Cardiff, which could provide some insight into head coach Steve Hansen’s view of his strongest lineup, a year from the next World Cup.

It will be a fitting occasion, as McCaw captained the All Blacks for the first time against the Welsh exactly 10 years ago today, on 20 November 2004, in his 25th Test. McCaw has won 89 of his 99 previous Tests as captain.

Beauden Barrett has replaced Aaron Cruden at starting flyhalf, beating out two other top-class players competing for the No 10 jersey – Dan Carter, the world’s top Test point-scorer, and the versatile Colin Slade, who was named to the bench.

The All Blacks will boast an experienced starting forward pack, with hooker Dane Coles and props Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks making up the front row while Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock return to the second row, with Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read joining McCaw in the back row.

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WalesWales are hopefully heading for a rugby crescendo when they host “red-letter” world champions New Zealand on Saturday, according to the Welsh team’s defence coach Shaun Edwards.

“It is always a red-letter day when the All Blacks come to town,” said the Wigan and Great Britain rugby league legend.

“And also the fact they are the current world champions makes it a little more special. Whenever a team are world champions, for that period it is a special fixture when they come to your home ground.

“With it being the All Blacks, it is that bit extra special as well.”

After two punishing fitness-focused weeks in camp ahead of the 33-28 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales scraped past Fiji 17-13, but Edwards said normality had returned.

“We’ve gone back to our standard week. We are pretty happy with our fitness levels,” he said.

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George Ford

George Ford

George Ford is set to make his first Test start after being selected at flyhalf in a revamped England side to play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ford, all of whose four previous Test appearances have come as a replacement, now finds himself in the No 10 shirt with regular fly-half Owen Farrell moved across to inside centre by England coach Stuart Lancaster despite unimpressive showings in this month’s defeats by world champions New Zealand and South Africa

Farrell played the first two matches of his England career, in 2012, at inside centre when he was also alongside Brad Barritt, who is again set to be his midfield partner against Samoa this weekend.

“It’s great to give George a start in this series after he missed the summer tour through injury,” Lancaster said in a Rugby Football Union statement published on Wednesday.

“George has been impressive in camp and is now fully up to speed with the game plan and is ready to run the game. Owen switches to 12 and I’m sure will support George well.”

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Wing Henry Speight will finally make his Test debut for Australia, against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

His inclusion is one of four changes to the Wallabies’ starting line-up, following their three-point loss to France last weekend.

The 26-year-old Speight will be the third player to make his debut for Australia on the team’s European tour, joining Sean McMahon and Tetera Faulkner.

In the three other changes, lock Sam Carter, back row forward Luke Jones and centre Matt Toomua will join a starting XV that has 488 games of Test experience.

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IrelandSix Nations champions, Ireland have made two changes to their starting line-up for their match against Australia at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Veterans Gordon D’Arcy and Rory Best are the only two changes from the team that beat South Africa a fortnight ago.

D’Arcy, who will win his 81st cap, comes in at centre for the injured Jared Payne while Best, who will make his 78th appearance for Ireland, has recovered from injury to take his place at hooker, dropping Sean Cronin to the bench.

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FranceRising star Teddy Thomas has been sanctioned by French coach Philippe Saint-Andre for missing a training session, and has subsequently been dropped for Saturday’s Test against Argentina in Paris.

Thomas made a stunning debut against Fiji, becoming only the second Frenchman to score a hat trick of tries on his first appearance for Les Bleus adn followed that up by scoring his fourth International try in two matches against Australia a week later.

The 21-year-old earned a third straight call-up on Wednesday for the Test against the Pumas but the young Racing-Metro player forgot to attend training on Wednesday evening, along with the squad at the French national training centre at Marcoussis, outside Paris.

And Saint-Andre and his deputies, Yannick Bru and Patrice Lagisquet, decided to drop Thomas and called up Toulouse wing Maxime Medard, who has 40 caps for France, in his place.

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SamoaSamoa’s Census Johnston is set to win his 50th international cap this weekend after being named in the side to play England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The tighthead prop, who has also played three Tests for the combined Pacific Islands team, lines up in the front row with hooker Ti’iPaulo and loosehead prop Sakaria Taulafo.

Samoa have made six changes to the starting XV that beat Canada 23-13 in Vannes, north-west France, last Friday.

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter has made four injury-enforced changes to the starting Scotland team that will play Tonga in this Saturday’s historic viagogo Autumn Test match at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (kick-off 14:30 BST & GMT, 16:30 SA Time).

The national team are continuing their trend of taking international rugby to pastures new in a globally ground-breaking fixture, as an international involving a Tier One country is held on an entirely artificial pitch for the first time.

The team’s alterations are split evenly between the forwards and backs, with tight-head prop Geoff Cross and number 8 Johnnie Beattie stepping into the pack for Euan Murray and Adam Ashe, who miss out through thigh and neck injuries respectively.

In the backs, 90-cap Glasgow Warrior Sean Lamont, who came on in the 13th minute against New Zealand as an injury replacement for club-mate Mark Bennett (hamstring), retains his place in midfield.

The final change sees Edinburgh Rugby’s free-scoring winger Tim Visser set to make his first appearance since the summer tour in place of injured Warrior Sean Maitland (hamstring).

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Bath PlugBath RugbyErrr… wrong picture… I did not say Bath Plug, I said Bath Rugby! OK, here’s the right one!

Gmpfff, still looks somewhat the same!

 

Anyway… Bath head coach Mike Ford has said the club are not in the market for Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen.

Earlier in the week there was speculation that Bath were on the hunt for Vermeulen to be one of their marquee players alongside Wallaby Will Genia.

“It was news to us when it was mentioned to us earlier today,” Ford said on Tuesday.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

Francois Louw says he had been carrying “for years” an underlying neck problem that forced him to have surgery in September.

A pinched nerve caused by a slipped disk resulted in the 34-cap Springbok having an operation on 22 September.

The injury has forced the flank to miss the year-end internationals and Louw is still unable to put a firm date on his return for club side Bath, although he says a December “would be fantastic”.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster made three changes to his matchday squad to face Samoa on Saturday, as he looks to end a five-match losing streak.

Richard Wigglesworth, James Haskell and Billy Twelvetrees will make their first appearances in a matchday squad in the year-end Tests, after being named among the 23 players to face Samoa in the third international this month.

Saracens scrumhalf Wigglesworth, who won the last of his 14 Test caps on the 2013 tour to Argentina, replaces the starting No 9 from the three-point defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, Harlequins’ Danny Care.

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Omar Mouneimne

Omar Mouneimne

Edinburgh confirmed on Tuesday that due to personal reasons Omar Mouneimne has had to leave the Pro12 outfit to return to South Africa.

“We are sorry that Omar has had to return to South Africa to deal with some personal issues,” Edinburgh coaching boss Alan Solomons said.

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Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett

The Warriors have confirmed that Mark Bennett will be out for in the region of 12 weeks with a hamstring injury.

The centre, who was injured during Scotland’s defeat to New Zealand on Saturday, was assessed at Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow.

He does not require surgery and will now undergo a period of rehabiitation.

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ScotlandPrior to the test match between Scotland and the New Zealand All Blacks we featured a piece which suggested that we would like to see wholesale changes to Scotland’s team to face Tonga this coming Saturday. In short the reasoning was that in picking a team with as many players who ply their trade outside Scotland as the two professional teams under Scottish Rugby Union’s control would be aided in their PRO12 efforts, with Glasgow Warriors being the main benefactor. Remember Glasgow Warriors play against Welsh team Llanelli Scarlets in the Guinness PRO12 on Friday night while Edinburgh host Cardiff Blues on Sunday.

There would also be the benefit of  head coach Vern Cotter and his coaching team being able to work a bit more with exiles and assess their abilities in the heat of battle in the Test match, bearing in mind that the last Test match of Scotland’s summer tour (June Internationals) was played outside the international window, so he didn’t have the chance to play any of the non Scotland based players then.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

English club Bath are reportedly setting their sights on signing Springbok and Stormers No 8 Duane Vermeulen after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The 28-year-old has been instrumental for the Springboks this season and was recently also shortlisted as an IRB World Rugby Player of the year nominee.

According to the Express.co.uk website, Bath are lining up Vermeulen as a second marquee player alongside Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia.

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Martin Castrogiovanni

Martin Castrogiovanni

The Italian team was given a clean bill of health ahead of their encounter with South Africa at Stadio Euganeo in Padua on Saturday – the last match of their year-end campaign.

After a credible 24-13 win over Samoa in their opening match, the Azzurri slipped to an 18-20 to Argentina last week.

Jacques Brunel’s charges, determined to get back on the winning track and record their first-ever win over the Springboks in what will be the 12th encounter between the countries, returned to the training field on Monday with all the players that featured against the Pumas available again.

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WhistleThe Match Officials for all End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) as well as all other rugby of significance have been named.

South African referee, Jaco Peyper, is appointed for the England vs Samoa match and Glen Jackson will officiate in the Ireland vs Australia game in Dublin.

South Africa gets another French referee, Jérôme Garcès for the clash against Italy in Padua, whereas the Wales vs All Blacks game in Cardiff will be handled by Stuart Barnes.

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Luther Burrell

Luther Burrell

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees are both in contention to face Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, after Burrell was named in the group preparing for the third of England’s year-end Tests.

The Northampton Saints centre, who scored three tries in the 2014 Six Nations, is among 28 players recalled by Stuart Lancaster to Pennyhill Park on Monday – after recovering from a hand injury.

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, missing from the 28-31 defeat to South Africa with a thigh injury, has not recovered sufficiently to retake his place in the squad and will remain at the club.

Domestic colleague Kyle Eastmond suffered concussion towards the end of the match last Saturday and will undergo the graduated return to play protocol in hope of playing against the South Sea Islanders.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

The Springboks have two main injury concerns following their bruising 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Prop Jannie Du Plessis hobbled off in the 64th minute of the game after he went down awkwardly at the breakdown, which team doctor Craig Roberts is currently investigating.

“Jannie hyper-extended his knee in a ruck and was caught quite awkwardly. His foot got stuck in the ground and couldn’t bend his knee which ended up overstretching his hamstring and hyper-extending his knee.

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AustraliaIrelandSix Nations champions Ireland’s hopes of completing a clean sweep of the November tests faces a very tough challenge in the shape of Australia, conceded their coach Joe Schmidt.

The 49-year-old New Zealander – who has turned Ireland’s fortunes round since he replaced Declan Kidney after the 2013 Six Nations – was speaking after a massively revamped Irish side had eventually coasted to a 49-7 victory over Georgia at Lansdowne Road.

The win – the sixth in succession for the hosts – saw Ireland rise to third in the IRB rankings for the first time since November 2006, also coincidentally the last time they beat both South Africa and Australia in the same year.

However, Schmidt, whose side beat South Africa last Saturday, said the Wallabies would pose them all sorts of problems despite having been beaten by France this weekend.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The Springboks put in a powerful performance full of passion and pride to beat a game England 31-28 in front of a packed Twickenham stadium in London.

In doing so the Boks restored some pride after their Dublin ambush and continued their dominance over England in a run that now stretches 12 matches and back to 2006.

And while the scoreline eventually talked about a close match, the Boks were much more dominant than it suggests, and frustratingly let England into the game at crucial times when they should have put them away.

In the end, a crucial yellow card to lock Victor Matfield – inconsistent from referee Steve Walsh given the rest of his rulings in the game – swept England back into the game when they were staring down the barrel at 20-6 down.

For a brief five-minute period, down to 14 men, the Boks were unable to cope with England`s driving maul and conceded two tries, even though the second one came from a shocking error from the touch judge, who gave the English a line-out when it should have gone to the Boks.

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