South Africa clings on 42-39 to hand England another loss

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa came from 24-3 down to win 42-39 and wrench the first rugby test out of England’s hands with a 26-point burst in 19 minutes at the end of the first half on Saturday.

Springboks winger S’Busiso Nkosi scored two tries on his test debut in that period to help put South Africa ahead after being way behind and looking ragged. The Boks held on grimly after two late England scores by lock Maro Itoje and winger Jonny May.

The loss at Ellis Park was a fourth straight in tests and fifth overall for England.

England’s Mike Brown, bottom right, scores a try during the first test rugby match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, June 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

And yet England was rampant in the first 20 minutes before South Africa turned the game completely.

England raced into the 24-3 lead with tries by backs Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and captain Owen Farrell, who converted all three.

Recalled scrumhalf Faf de Klerk began the Boks’ comeback with the first try, then Nkosi scored in each corner and fullback Willie le Roux got the fourth for South Africa, which went to halftime 29-27 ahead.

Aphiwe Dyantyi, another South Africa wing on debut, pushed the home team 39-27 ahead, making England pay immediately for a yellow card to prop Mako Vunipola.

Itoje’s and May’s tries in the last 10 minutes set up a thrilling finish.


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