England trampled at Twickers as Div’s mean machine finally gets into top gear.
Clinton Van Der Berg writes for the Sunday Times that this was rugby of the volcanic kind: blazing, furious and a sight to behold. The world champions came to London with something to prove and tonight they leave this great city having laid waste to their best. England weren’t beaten, they were humiliated.
Not only was this the highest score ever conceded at Twickenham, the 36-point margin was the greatest. England had spoken up their chances, but yesterday they made a passable impression of a car wreck.
“We were killed,” said England manager Martin Johnson through gritted teeth.
That was putting it mildly. Ten times the Boks visited the England 22m area – 36 points were accrued.
They played with precision, intensity and a stunning sense of spirit and freedom yesterday. The northern hemisphere may be in thrall to the All Blacks, but not many teams would have lived with a Bok team that was on a mission to destroy.
The Boks had been quietly disappointed with their form on tour and were determined to end the season with a flourish. The only surprise was that they cut loose to such an extent, which is in itself frustrating: why don’t they take off the shackles more often? Claims of fatigue were made to look foolish. The way Bakkies Botha, John Smit, Schalk Burger and Beast Mtawarira threw themselves about, they looked supercharged.
Other than the first 10 minutes, when SA were out of sorts, they controlled every minute of the Test. Even when England carried the ball, there was supreme conviction in the way the Boks defended. They tackled furiously and refused to be cowed, either by referee Nigel Owens’s busy whistle or England’s frantic efforts.
England’s only consolation was having the Boks’ measure up front, although the visitors scrapped hard and sought to overcome referee ’s strict application of the laws.
SA scored five tries to none. The foundation was laid in a thrilling first half where Ricky Januarie’s clever box-kicks put the England back three under pressure. There were other vital areas: England’s players had the life squeezed from them on attack, the Boks hitting them hard and quickly. And they were blasted to smithereens in the tackle.
Undeterred by Owens nailing them at the tackle point, the Boks re-directed their attack. Danie Rossouw scored first through a fierce demonstration of power as he smashed through a phalanx of defenders.
Then Ruan Pienaar burst onto a Danny Cipriani clearance, picked up the rebound and stormed in. At 17-3, the Boks were sitting pretty. More importantly, Pienaar had ripped the heart from England, who played with little imagination or thrust.
There were blazing tries and attacking forays by the Boks, but quite the best illustration of their vigour and intent was produced by Bakkies Botha. For two mesmerising tackles alone, he was demonstrably my man of the match. First, he reeled in Delon Armitage to save a try with a stupendous tackle in the corner that had a tranquillising effect on England. In the second half, he got his mitts on Danny Care, just when he seemed about to break England’s duck.
SA had nervy moments, not least at the start of the second half when England launched several sorties. They came palpitatingly close to scoring, but the Boks stayed resolute.
This was the theme even when they separately had two players binned. Mtawarira was carded for going off his feet, while Conrad Jantjes earned his rest after a dangerous block that probably saved a try.
That SA never conceded a point during their absence was testament to their collective will. If anything, they got better.
England made a couple of early substitutions, but they had negligible effect: while they were stuck in first gear, the Boks were in fifth.
SA confirmed their authority just before the hour when the Boks won a lineout and shot the ball wide, Adi Jacobs cutting in after JP Pietersen had drawn in the defenders.
By now, the many Bok supporters among the 81000-strong crowd were in full voice. Good days at Twickenham are rare for Bok supporters, great days such as this even rarer.
Replacement Jaque Fourie scored a sumptuous try as England were willing the time away and so did Bryan Habana, finally breaking his scoring drought to put the seal on the most remarkable of wins.
Tries: Danie Rossouw, Ruan Pienaar, Adi Jacobs, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana.
Conversions: Pienaar (3), Frans Steyn (1).
Penalties: Pienaar (3).
Penalties: Danny Cipriani (2).