Key Clash Preview: South Africa v England – 3rd Test

Date: 23th June 2012
Kickoff: 16:00
Referee: Steve Walsh
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

South Africa:

It’s doubtful as to whether we will see a more powerful half from a team all year. Ellis Park has witnessed many famous Springbok performances but the opening 40 of the 2nd Test were a real statement. Sure, the Boks were lucky the first try from Willem Alberts was given and Toby Flood’s try dented the scoreline, but the power coming from Bismarck du Plessis, Pierre Spies and Alberts was unstoppable. It was quite the statement as England fell off tackles and prayed for the half time whistle.

The second half saw the Boks either run out of steam or lose focus, letting England cut down their 18 point lead to just four. This will have been scrutinised by the Bok coaching staff all week as they look to cut down errors. There are new faces across the starting XV as well in Gio Aplon, Wynand Olivier and Jacques Potgeiter.


Obliterated in the first half in Johannesburg, England showed plenty of spirit and some dominance in the set-piece to get back into the game against the Springboks, ultimately coming up short though thanks to JP Pietersen’s late try. There were positives in the performances of Tom Johnson and Chris Robshaw at the breakdown, not to mention Ben Youngs and Toby Flood at half back, but generating positive attacks proved tricky against a brutal Bok defence.

England have paid the price for that physicality by losing Robshaw, Youngs and Corbisiero for Saturday’s Test, meaning another reshuffle in the backline and a recall for James Haskell and Tom Palmer in the pack. Stuart Lancaster’s side appeared to gain an edge in the scrum with Corbisiero’s inclusion off the bench last week but the London Irish prop was ruled out this morning, denting England’s chances. With the series gone, pride is at stake.

What to Expect:

The visitors’ defence has to be sharper than last weekend when 35 tackles were missed. No side will ever win a Test match with that stat looming over them. One on one defence has been a concern all tour for Lancaster’s coaching team and the Boks will run hard once more, freeing up Bismarck & co. for big runs from deep to get beyond the gain line. The scrum must hold firm and lineout possession be secured for any chance of victory.

South Africa might consider increasing their kicking game after running hard for arguably too long last week in Joburg, but Morné Steyn is enduring a difficult series with the boot and looking for some form ahead of The Rugby Championship. Potgeiter is a proven menace at the breakdown in Super Rugby, leaving James Haskell with his work cut out.

Head to Head: Gio Aplon & Alex Goode

A surprising omission from the inital South Africa squad for this series, Aplon has suffered criticism throughout his career regarding his diminutive stature not being up to the level of Test rugby. The fact is, he is phenomenally quick and given space to run from deep will cause England’s defence real trouble.

Alex Goode’s inclusion on the other hand is long overdue in the eyes of many after outstanding form for his club Saracens dating back to 2010. A capable kicker who is solid under the high ball, this will be a big challenge for Goode as he becomes England third full back in three matches on tour.

Ones to Watch: Jacques Potgeiter & Danny Care

Set to grab his opportunity in the absence of Willem Alberts, Potgeiter has developed nicely with the Bulls over recent seasons, doing enough to warrant selection at openside flanker. A back rower with real pace, he is a serious threat on the floor when it comes to turning over possession, an element the Springboks have lacked so far in their opening two matches.

Danny Care meanwhile returns to an England Test match following the injury to Ben Youngs. It has been a long but fruitful road to redemption for the Harlequin, a turbulent season resulting in a first Premiership title and a real return to form that saw him comprehensively stand out against the SA Barbarians South over a week ago in Kimberley. Big chance to impress.


With Heyneke Meyer only making limited changes to his side, and the number of major injuries England have suffered over the last week, the chance of sneaking a win against a weakened South Africa in the 3rd Test looks to have gone. England will give everything, but come up short. South Africa by 9

by Ben Coles

6 thoughts on “Key Clash Preview: South Africa v England – 3rd Test

  1. Don’t have a good feeling about this. The fact that we could finish the match with PDJ and Mears in the front row leaves me in a cold sweat.

  2. Corbs is a serious loss. Robshaw is an even bigger loss. I don’t see us winning this without those 2.

    Also Potgeiter is a blindside.

  3. We wont win this one.

    And i disagree the first half was that good by the Boks.

    We didnt front up we are missing some street fighters in our pack. As much as i like Tom johnson, hes no Tom Wood.

    Can anyone tell me what happened to Ben Morgan? I was really excited post 6N and hes dropped off big time.

    Im not convinced by Waldrom at the highest level, hes seems to lose it a bit mentally.

    IN the 12 minute of the 2nd test Floody passed to Stettle when Joseph was screaming in space with a one on one with Habanna.

    We cant expect to win these games with underpowered 2nd choice forwards and poor decision making.

    But there is the making of a good team here, lets hope we keep building and hit the SH in the autumn!

  4. Don’t think we can win, but no idea if we will play well or not. Lot of my uncertainty coming from the loss of Captain Consistent. Before the tour, although I thought we may nick the first one, I didn’t mind if we came back without a test win provided we saw some progress on the pitch in terms of developing an attacking game. Whilst there is plenty of good news from the tour in terms of player development and good prospects coming through, to not see anything like a strike move successfully executed from first phase in a test is a worry. Assuming we get some clean ball all I’m hoping in attack is
    – To see our forwards get over the gainline and create some momentum by running onto the ball.
    – To get our strike runners involved in the game and have some sort of structure to our attack, not some random distribution of forwards and backs all over the pitch.

  5. Plusses from this tour is that certain players have stepped up and the team spirit. We have gone backwards re our defence and intensity – come back Andy Farrell all is forgiven! Personally I cannot see any progress in our attack particularly in the last match the strategy seemed to be to miss Tuilagi out of the attack! I also think the tour has exposed some players as not being up to it.

    1. 100% with you on the defence regression. I know we have missed a lot if one on one tackles, but I think this is really a symptom of lack of defensive line speed and just waiting to take the hit of the oncoming player. Hope Lancaster does augment team with a defence specialist, A. Farrell fitting the bill nicely or Dave Ellis. Having Catt cover attack and defence for test and midweek has spread him far too thin in my opinion.

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