- England lose first Test with Springboks
- Jones urges side to improve discipline
- Second Test on Saturday in Bloemfontein
Former England scrum half Lee Dickson analyses Saturday’s loss to South Africa and picks out his standout England play.
My Play of the Week is Mike Brown’s third minute try, a score that really set the tone for England and put them on a high after a week of pressure.
Eddie Jones labelled it their spiritual home, and he’s right. Ellis Park can be a daunting place for any team to go; South African fans are so passionate and the Springboks feed off that energy in the stadium, so for England to start as they did was incredible.
They showed courage and endeavour to attack from deep, and after working their way into Springbok territory, they generated quick ball for Ben Youngs (circled blue below) to feed George Ford (number 10).
After watching the Six Nations I think South Africa probably intended to target England’s breakdown early, but as the clear out was so good on this play, and Youngs was there so quick, the ball was away in seconds taking three Springbok defenders (red line above) – who were honey potting the breakdown – out of the equation.
Ford then takes the ball to the line and the imposing figure of Billy Vunipola (circled blue 8 above) holds two South African defenders (red). Vunipola creates this score by running such a great out-to-in line and fixing those defenders – even after a 15-month absence from a Test jersey they know how much of a threat he is – and England use him well here.
The ball goes behind Vunipola to his Sarries teammate Owen Farrell (blue above) – who just sees the game like no other – and knowing there is now space out wide to attack, draws in debutant S'busiso Nkosi, and fires a flat ball to Brown (blue left) 22 metres out.
There was a lot of negative talk of Brown’s selection at wing pre-game, but he proved a lot of people wrong here, as most wingers wouldn’t have finished this. Using great footwork he dispatches Handre Pollard (red left), and then shows tremendous strength to beat Damian de Allende (red right) to get over the line.
After leaving Pollard there was still ten metres to go, and he could’ve easily have died with the ball and got turned over, but Brown is a player with such determination and he loves scoring. This showed he is a Test player and can be a Test winger too.
The play is an example of being clinical in attack. The pace with which England played at coupled with their ability to use dummy runners and interlink passes seamlessly was incredible, and makes for good viewing. Let’s hope for more of the same next week.