Trio undone by Springboks
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs trio Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Harry Williams all featured as England kicked off their summer tour of South Africa with a 42-39 defeat at Ellis Park.
Despite storming into a 24-3 leas thanks to converted tries from Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and skipper Owen Farrell, the Springboks recovered impressively to lead 29-27 at the turn thanks to scores from Faf de Klerk, S'busiso Nkosi (2) and Willie le Roux tries.
Aphiwe Dyantyi then went over for the hosts, and two Handre Pollard penalties meant scores from Maro Itoje and Jonny May were not enough for Eddie Jones’ side, who have now lost their last four Test matches.
Post-match, Jones admitted his team would need to improve their discipline after they conceded 12 penalties to South Africa’s four.
"It’s a game we could have won," he said. "I’ve never seen a better 20 minutes by a visiting side at Ellis Park.
"I thought the next 40 was a mixture of inconsistency; lack of discipline was the main cause of our penalty count against us. It’s hard to win any Test match with a penalty count like that. I’m proud of the boys but we need to sort that discipline."
He added: "It’s my problem, I select the players and we need to change their behaviour - sometimes that’s not easy."
Jones also believes his side conceded soft tries, while explaining the 35th minute introduction of forward Brad Shields for Nick Isiekwe was an attempt to "change the momentum of the game."
"We conceded some easy tries today and we struggled to get our spacing right, but it’s something we’re working on," he said. "At times the South African’s attacked well, and we’ll keep working on it.
"The game was slipping away from us and we needed to change it and the only way you can do that is by changing personnel.
"We felt bringing Brad Shields on in such an open game and having another back row forward out there would help us defensively."
Despite the defeat though, Jones says his side can take positives heading into this Saturday’s second Test on Saturday in Bloemfontein.
"Our effort and attitude was outstanding and it’s the first time I’ve seen a visiting team applauded off the field at Ellis Park. We played with a lot of courage but lacked discipline."
South Africa: Le Roux; Nkosi, Am, De Allende, Dyantyi, Pollard; De Klerk, Vermeulen, Du Preez, Kolisi, Mostert, Snyman, W Louw, Mbonambi, Mtawarira. Replacements: Van der Merwe, Kitshoff, T du Toit, P du Toit, Notshe, I Van Zyl, Jantjies, Gelant.
England: Daly; May, Slade, Farrell, Brown; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Isiekwe, Robshaw, T Curry, B Vunipola. Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Marler, Williams, Shields, Hill, Spencer, Francis, Solomona.