England scored five tries but were beaten 42-39 by South Africa in a thrilling Test match at Ellis Park.
Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell all crossed in a blistering start by Eddie Jones’ men to put them 24-3 up, but they could not maintain the pace and South Africa hit back.
Sale Sharks’ Faf de Klerk put in a superb display at scrum-half, while Wasps’ Willie Le Roux scored just before the break to put the Springboks ahead.
Saracens’ Maro Itoje and Leicester Tigers’ Jonny May both scored tries late on but South Africa managed to hold on and complete an amazing turnaround.
SO close for England but just beaten at the end of a superb Test match. 1⃣0⃣tries and a whole heap of drama.
On to next week now 💥 pic.twitter.com/PorRVCjFqT
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) June 9, 2018
With a fifth-place finish in the Six Nations to shake out of their systems, England were at it from the first minute as Wasps’ Daly landed a mammoth penalty from inside his own half.
And it did not take them long to strike the first hammer blow, with Harlequins’ Brown shaking off a couple of challenges to power over in the corner.
South Africa were shaken and England did not relent from the re-start as Daly combined superbly with wing May to find space and slide in for a second.
England’s attacking play was cutting the Springboks defence to ribbons and Farrell got on the scoresheet with a third try thanks to a divine George Ford pass.
A shaken South Africa did respond thanks to De Klerk from close range, and that helped spark an incredible fightback as they took the half-time lead.
De Klerk, electric all season for the Sharks, helped set up S’busiso Nkosi for two tries before Le Roux crashed over minutes before the break.
— Debbie Knight (@debsknig) June 9, 2018
After the end-to-end first half, the second was far more contained although Handre Pollard extended South Africa’s lead to 32-27.
But Mako Vunipola, winning his 50th cap in the match, was shown a yellow card with just over 15 minutes to go and South Africa hit the accelerator – with Aphiwe Dyantyi strolling over.
England refused to go quietly and Itoje reached over to put the ball down despite being under immense pressure from the Springboks defence.
Pollard added another penalty but May scored a stunning try with two minutes to go, cutting in from the right and sprinting clear.
However, South Africa kept the ball well at the end and lead the three-match series 1-0.