Boks inflict record defeat on England

South Africa humiliated world champions England in Paris on Friday as they inflicted a record World Cup defeat on them winning 36-0 to avenge their 2003 World Cup loss to the English.

Two tries to JP Pietersen (taking his total to three), one from Juan Smith and 18 points from Percy Montgomery handed England their first World Cup defeat since the Springboks beat them here at the Stade de France in the 1999 World Cup quarterfinals.

The Springboks gained the early advantage with a stunning try.

Pietersen made a break down the right wing and offloaded to outstanding scrum-half Fourie du Preez, who looked certain to score but for a tap tackle by Jason Robinson that made him stumble.

However, the Bulls scrumhalf had the presence of mind to look inside and find Smith, who had an open field to run in and touch down—Montgomery, equalling Joost van der Westhuizen’s national caps record of 89, converted to make it 7-0 after just six minutes.

South Africa extended their lead to 10-0 a few minutes later as England conceded a penalty and the impressive young centre Francois Steyn landed it from long range that had coach Jake White out of his seat.

The Boks all but grabbed their second try in the 21st minute when Du Preez’s inspired kick into England’s 22 saw Jaque Fourie grab the ball, but Robinson’s last-ditch tackle stopped him just short of the line, though. Fourie’s momentum carried him forward but he lost control of the ball.

While the South Africans were dominating, they were not getting that vital third score with Steyn going closest with a drop-goal effort that hit the post.

They finally extended it to 13-0 when the ice-cool Montgomery landed a penalty in the 36th minute after England’s South African-born prop Matt Stevens seemed to forget which side he was on and gave away a needless penalty for obstruction.

The match looked done and dusted in the 38th minute when England lost the ball and the magnificent Du Preez picked up a loose pass from a teammate, made the break and selflessly unloaded to Pietersen who strode over the line—Montgomery converted to give them a 20-0 advantage.

England must have known their time was up as one of the bands in the crowd struck up Those Were the Days My Friend at the start of the second half.

Montgomery’s unerring boot quickly added another penalty to make it 23-0 and England just couldn’t help themselves as, with a great chance of a try, for some reason lock Ben Kay believed he was Jonny Wilkinson and tried to chip it into the corner only to kick it softly into a grateful Pietersen’s hands from 5m.

Montgomery landed another penalty to make it 26-0 shortly before the hour mark and as if to symbolise England’s appalling night, Robinson—England’s best player—pulled up in the 58th minute clutching his left hamstring when they looked likely to score a try.

Instead it was Pietersen who grabbed his second try in the 64th minute, once again set up by the irrepressible Du Preez, which Montgomery converted to make it 33-0—he was to add another penalty before full-time—and leave England, like Robinson, bloodied and limping off the pitch.

“We were just playing catch-up most of the time,” said England captain Martin Corry. “It just felt that we didn’t have the opportunity to get into the game very early on and gave them a couple of chances and then it was 25 or 30 minutes before we got a bit of the ball, and then we didn’t make any use of it at all.”

Coach Brian Ashton said he had “had a go at the guys” at half-time “which I think was justified”.

“We just didn’t translate the possession we had into points and effectively the game was over by half-time.
Monday morning we have to start preparing to beat Samoa,” he added.—Sapa-AFP

Pirate Irwin

Pirate Irwin

Pirate Irwin is a journalist with Agence France Presse , who has been based in Paris for 16 years having initially arrived for just a six month summer stay. Born in Ireland in 1965 and educated at Eton and Institute for Foreign Students in Tours after missing out on University by a large margin. His first name is a gift from his grandfather inspired by Radio Caroline but not appreciated by a Roman Catholic priest at christening.  Read more from Pirate Irwin

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