Bruised England eye end to Boks' winning run
June 14, 2012
It was a highly physical affair in the first Test between England and South Africa © PA Photos
A bruised and bloodied England travel to Johannesburg on Saturday looking to level the series with the Springboks.
Brad Barritt finished last weekend's clash with a lacerated eyeball illustrating the high level of physicality in the first Test between England and South Africa. The Boks started their new dawn under Heyneke Meyer with a 22-17 win with both sides failing to hit top form.
Come Saturday, at altitude, the Boks will have fortress Ellis Park cheering them on as they look to tie up the series ahead of the third and final match in Port Elizabeth. England will hope to replicate the spirit the British & Irish Lions showed back in 2009 when they won at Ellis Park and after their midweek match against the SA Barbarians (South), England have a maiden tour win under the belts.
Despite the one sided nature to the scoreboard, England's performance had room for improvement and it is dubious whether Stuart Lancaster would have learnt that much from the game. There is no place for any of the squad in the 22 for this weekend but the Test side will look to continue that winning mentality against Meyer's Boks.
South Africa - Player to Watch: Bryan Habana showed signs last weekend of being back to his electric best. England will have to contain his charging runs if they are to take the second Test with Chris Ashton an essential part of this.
South Africa - Team News: Pat Lambie replaces Zane Kirchner at fullback for the Boks with Bjorn Basson coming onto the bench in Lambie's place. Werner Kruger takes Coenie Oosthuizen's amongst the replacements.
England - Player to Watch: David Strettle owes England a big performance. He is back on the wing after being dropped for the first Test and with Mike Brown back home and Ben Foden shifted to fullback, Strettle now has to stave off Christian Wade for the wing berth after the young Wasps flyer scored a hat-trick midweek.
England - Team News: Toby Flood starts at fly-half in place of Owen Farrell with Strettle named on the wing. Ben Foden takes Mike Brown's spot at fullback with Jonathan Joseph handed his first Test start with Brad Barritt sidelined. Manu Tuilagi shifts to inside centre to accommodate Joseph who begins the game outside him. Thomas Waldrom was a late addition to England's bench after Phil Dowson was forced to withdraw due to a hamstring injury.
Key Battle: Stuart Lancaster has handed the fly-half reins back to Toby Flood and his battle with Morne Steyn should be fascinating. With the game being played at altitude, the ball will fly further and this will aid Steyn's natural game - Flood will have to match this.
Trivia: The first successful penalty by South Africa in this Test will be the 800th Test penalty goal in Springbok history
Stats: Pierre Spies is now South Africa's most capped No 8 with 43 Tests in this position. Spies also holds the record for most Test tries as a No.8 for the Boks - seven
Quote unquote: "We still have not had a lot of preparation time, but I'm pleased to have seen how the players have been getting stuck in - on the training field and during our off-field sessions." - Boks coach Heyneke Meyer
"Toby [Flood] has waited patiently for his opportunity and the time is right to allow him the chance to demonstrate his experience and skills in what will be a very tough challenge." - England boss Stuart Lancaster
Prediction: The Springboks will secure the series with a 10-point win
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship