South Africa 14-14 England, Port Elizabeth, June 23
England and South Africa battle to a draw
June 23, 2012
Date/Time: Jun 23, 2012, 17:00 local, 15:00 GMT
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
South Africa 14 - 14 England
Attendance: 45668  Half-time: 9 - 8
Tries: Pietersen
Pens: Steyn 3
Tries: Care
Pens: Farrell 2, Flood
England's Danny Care scores a try, South Africa v England, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, June 23, 2012
England's Danny Care scores the first try of the game in Port Elizabeth
© Getty Images

England ended their tour of South Africa on a positive note as they fought back to claim a 14-14 draw at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Story of the Game

  • Man of the Match: England were up for this one and their impressive effort and industry was emphasised by the endeavour of flanker Tom Johnson who continues to impress despite being a newcomer to the international stage.
  • Key Moment: England captain Dylan Hartley was sin-binned for deliberately killing the ball in the second half and his side held out in his absence only for South Africa's JP Pietersen to cross just as he returned to the fray.
  • Hero of the Game: England's Danny Care returned to the Test match stage in style with a top-class display that included some quick-thinking that led to his try. The troubled No.9 repaid the faith shown in him by coach Stuart Lancaster and was rewarded with the Man of the Match honour.
  • Villain of the Game: Morne Steyn suffered a shocker with the boot missing two penalties, a conversion and a drop goal. His performance was that bad he was booed by the home crowd who were left wondering what had happened to their usually faultless playmaker.
  • Talking Point: What has happened to the usually reliable Morne Steyn? A couple of years ago he could not miss but is now painfully short of confidence and form which must be a major worry for the Boks ahead of the Rugby Championship.
  • Play of the Game: England's defence was superb throughout with Chris Ashton's huge hit on South Africa's Gio Aplon the pick of a number of bone-crunching tackles. Expect to see it on highlight reels for years to come.

Danny Care gave them an early lead by marking his international return with a try but JP Pietersen looked to have given the Springboks a decisive edge just after the hour. England did not wilt and Owen Farrell's second penalty of a disjointed and scrappy contest played out in wet conditions secured a draw.

Farrell even had a late chance to win the game but sliced a drop-goal attempt horribly wide. But after defeats in Durban and Johannesburg - and nine in succession in total to the Springboks - England will have been happy to settle for only the second draw in history between the two sides.

The game never really got flowing as rain swirled around the impressive arena on Port Elizabeth's seafront, venue for England's win over Slovenia in the 2010 football World Cup. England went ahead with a Toby Flood penalty in the second minute but the fly-half needed treatment after a heavy collision moments later and struggled to continue. There was a lengthy delay after the tourists were awarded another penalty as Flood readied himself and his effort dropped wide.

Morne Steyn levelled but England claimed the first try after a kick from the Springbok fly-half in open play was charged down by Tom Palmer. Tom Johnson was halted just short of the line but the ball was quickly recycled for Care to crash over and announce his return to the grand stage. Flood was unable to convert and, still not right, was replaced by Farrell soon after.

South Africa clawed back at England's lead and forced their way in front as Steyn landed two of the three penalty attempts he was allowed to line up in quick succession. England were then pushed back as the Springboks began to control possession and probe forward and the visitors did well to prevent further damage.

Bryan Habana made one dangerous break but Jannie du Plessis knocked on and Jean de Villiers was hauled back after breaking free. When the ball broke loose, Farrell quickly seized upon it and punted long downfield as England reached the break trailing 9-8.

They returned for the second half with renewed intent and Chris Ashton crashed into Gio Aplon with a fearsome tackle. The Springboks conceded a penalty at the resulting breakdown and Farrell calmly clipped the ball between the posts to put England back ahead.

It was a lead they almost surrendered within moments as Dan Cole was penalised but Steyn, uncharacteristically, was again wayward. But the tourists' indiscipline did cost them as Dylan Hartley, standing in as captain for the injured Chris Robshaw, was sinbinned after an offence in the ruck in the 51st minute.

South Africa did not capitalise while Hartley was off the field but, aside from a brief Ben Foden burst, they gained a measure of control. That paid off soon after Hartley's return. Cole put in a big hit on Aplon to stop the fullback just short of the line but England could not hold out much longer.

They were still stretched when Ruan Pienaar spun out a fine pass for Pietersen, scorer of the decisive try in the second Test, and the winger went around the outside and touch down. With Steyn missing the conversion, England were not out of touch and mounted a spirited response with Manu Tuilagi forcing his way forward.

They had to settle for a penalty but Farrell kept his composure and drilled between the posts to level the score. Steyn failed with a drop goal attempt as time ticked away. England looked to line up their own opportunity as they held on to possession after the final hooter but Farrell sliced his effort too low.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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