Boks tie with England in lacklustre performance

England's James Haskell (Top C) tries to catch the ball during the final test match between England and South Africa at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

England's James Haskell (Top C) tries to catch the ball during the final test match between England and South Africa at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

The Springboks could not seal the deal in the third and final Test against England as they handed the visitors a consolation 14-14 draw in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The South Africans could not find their rhythm but instead they were outplayed at stages of the match as the Roses were in the lead for most of the game.

The English started the match with greater intent with flyhalf Toby Flood recording the first points of the encounter with a penalty conversion two minutes into the match.

He could, however, not succeed with another attempt three minutes later while South Africa’s Morné Steyn equalled the scores with a penalty conversion of his own.

While the Springboks’ first two Tests of the series were recognised by flashes of brilliance, they dished up an altogether under-par performance in Port Elizabeth.

Despite the English forwards delaying tactics at the breakdowns, SA still managed to give the backline good forward ball.

The backline, however, looked in disarray as they could not pierce England’s defences in the same way they did in the first two matches.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer this week blamed soft moments in last week’s Test in Johannesburg for allowing the tourists into the match.

The Boks would therefore have received a tongue lashing at the half-time break for gifting England scrumhalf Danny Care with a try in the 12th minute.

Care caught the Boks off-guard meters from the try-line with a quick tap and a dart for the line, with Flood missing the convertion with the visitors leading 8-3.

Steyn narrowed the deficit with his second penalty conversion to bring the Boks within two points.

Hot and cold
The South Africans took the lead for the first time in the match with Steyn succeeding with a penalty conversion to give the Boks a mere one-point lead which they held until the half-time break.

It was, however, an unpolished performance by the Bok team in general and they continued their erratic performance after the restart as they relinquished their lead shortly after the break.

Farrell kicked the Roses back into the lead with a penalty conversion, while his opposite number missed his second attempt of the evening.

The Boks were handed a life-line when England captain Dylan Hartley was yellow-carded for repeatedly trying to slow down South Africa’s ball at the breakdown.

The hosts, however, could not convert this advantage into points as chance went begging.

Meyer started to ring the changes with Ruan Pienaar replacing Francois Hougaard, who fired hot and cold at times.

The coach also made changes in the second row with Flip van der Merwe replacing Eben Etzebeth and Ryan Kankowski going on for Potgieter.

The two replacements ignited the Boks’ attack as they threatened the English’s line.

The Springboks finally clawed their way back into the lead with JP Pietersen scoring in the right-hand corner after great vision from Pienaar who skip-passed to the winger to score the five-pointer, taking the scores to 14-11.

With nine minutes remaining, Farrell leveled the scores with a penalty attempt to hand his side a draw.

Scorers: South Africa 14 (9): Tries: JP Pietesen. Penalties: Morné Steyn (3).

England 14 (8): Tries: Danny Care. Penalties: Toby Flood, Owen Farrell (2).

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