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South Africa v England – story of the match

The second half was dominated by the Springboks.

England crashed to a fifth-successive defeat after a blistering start gave way to a dramatic collapse as South Africa emerged 42-39 winners from a thrilling first Test at Ellis Park.

A scarcely-believable 24-3 lead had been amassed by the 18th minute with George Ford acting as ringmaster as Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell ran in superb tries. But the match was turned on its head when Faf de Klerk orchestrated a stunning first-half comeback supported by Willie Le Roux, while debutant S’Busiso Nkosi crossed twice.

The second half was dominated by the Springboks whose customary physicality was matched by a cutting edged in attack overseen by De Klerk and Le Roux, but it was the boot of Handre Pollard that did most of the scoreboard damage through three penalties.

Tweet of the match

Star man – Faf de Klerk

The Sale Sharks livewire was the catalyst for the Springboks’ first-half fightback, scoring their first try and sending Willie Le Roux over for their fourth to give them a half-time lead after they had trailed 24-3. He continued to cause England no end of problems in the second half to keep the home side on the front foot.

Moment of the match

Owen Farrell’s touch down, and England’s third, in the 18th minute silenced Ellis Park. George Ford’s brilliant pass after a dominant phase of forward play freed Jonny May outside on the right and the Leicester Tigers winger timed his pass to perfection to send Farrell in under the posts to give the tourists a big lead.

Data point

England have only triumphed three times on South African soil and their only win at Ellis Park – now called Emirates Airline Park – came back in 1972 (18-9). The Springboks won the following two meetings between the two nations at South African rugby’s spiritual home in 1984 (35-9) and 2012 (36-27) before Saturday’s stunning comeback win sealed another success.

Who’s up next?

South Africa v England, second Test, June 16

South Africa v England, third Test, June 23

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