Brilliant goal-kicking by Owen Farrell and a superbly created Jonny May try gave England a 25-10 dead-rubber Test win over South Africa Saturday that snapped a six-match losing run.
Having led 6-3 at half-time, England fell a point behind in the second half before captain and centre Farrell and winger May took the game away from the Sprinboks, the 2-1 series winners.
The longer this arm-wrestle match progressed the more likely England looked like winning and they sealed success with a great try eight minutes from time at Newlands stadium in Cape Town.
Recalled fly-half Danny Cipriani sent a perfectly-weighted cross-field kick into the far corner and official man-of-the-match May darted behind the defence to score.
Farrell converted and added a penalty for a 20-point tally as England returned to winning ways after defeats by Scotland, France, Ireland, the Barbarians and South Africa (twice).
England avoided a series whitewash having lost in dry Johannesburg and Bloemfontein conditions by adapting better after pre-match rain, and wind.
Farrell said: “We have spoken all three weeks about just sticking together and there has been a lot of stuff going on outside.
“But I am proud of the way the boys stuck at it and now it is up to us to make sure we have come out the other side of these losses. We have got to stick at getting better now.”
Boks skipper and flanker Siya Kolisi said: “It was really tough. I think we dropped our intensity and the discipline was not good.”
If ever a first half went according to script this was it with the conditions dictating a tactical kicking duel in search of territorial supremacy.
Farrell succeeded with his two penalty kicks and South Africa fly-half Elton Jantjies with one from two to leave the tourists three points ahead at half-time.
Jantjies had the first scoring opportunity on five minutes, but his angled penalty shot was narrowly off target.
Farrell had an easier kick at goal five minutes later and converted it to open the scoring in the third meeting between the countries in Cape Town.
There was little to choose between the teams apart from the struggle for turnover ball, where England had the edge.
England also looked more threatening with ball in hand with May particularly elusive, and he also got back to avert a dangerous situation.
A kick ahead from South Africa winger Sibusiso Nkosi put England in peril only for May to gather the ball behind the tryline, dodge several Springboks and kick to touch.
Farrell kicked his second penalty on 37 minutes and Jantjies slotted his first in added time to close a first-half battle of attrition.
Early in the second half, Farrell maintained his perfect goal-kicking record with a third penalty before South Africa scored the first try of the match.
After forwards-led pressure nudged the Springboks close to the tryline, a clever grubber kick from full-back Warrick Gelant set up centre Josee Kriel to dot down.
Jantjies succeeded with a challenging conversion to give South Africa the lead for the first time.
But the advantage did not last long as two Farrell penalties, either side of a missed long-range attempt by full-back Elliot Daly, gave England a 15-10 advantage on the hour.
The no-frills England approach was enabling them to win the territorial battle, spending much of the half in the South African half and conceding fewer penalties.
On a rare excursion into England territory, South Africa conceded a penalty, and then May and Farrell ensured England triumphed.
© Agence France-Presse