England 28-31 South Africa
Meyer: We took a step back and three forward
ESPN Staff
November 16, 2014
Heyneke Meyer was delighted with Pat Lambie's showing © Getty Images

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer praised his side's attitude in the wake of their 31-28 win over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Springboks are unbeaten in 12 matches with England after Saturday's 31-28 victory at Twickenham, while Stuart Lancaster's men are in the midst of their worst run since 2006, when they suffered seven successive losses. It was not the most attractive contest, but Meyer took the positives from winning ugly.

"Sometimes you have to have a game like this where you do the basics right, grind out a win," he said. "That's Test match rugby and, for me, that's World Cup-winning rugby. There's going to be three knockout games and sometimes you have to play like this.

"I'm really happy that we almost took a step back but in a sense three steps forward because we adapted to the conditions and to our game plan."

Clock ticking on error-prone England

South Africa celebrate Jan Serfontein's try © Getty Images
  • Small margins. Once again England are left clutching to 'what ifs' as they fell to another defeat to one of the southern hemisphere big three at their once formidable Twickenham fortress.
  • England dominated possession and territory but were let down by clumsy errors - knock-ons littered the first half - and again questions were raised over their kicking game and their ability to turn time on the ball into points. "We could have been smarter," was Lancaster's assessment. For the victor, Jean de Villiers summed it up neatly: "It's quality of possession rather than percentage that counts."
  • Read the verdict from Twickenham here

Key to the victory was fly-half Pat Lambie, whose nerveless late drop-goal meant England needed more than a converted try to prevail. Lambie has now led the Springboks to a win at Twickenham three times, while in 12 November Tests in the northern hemisphere he has won 10 and lost two - to Scotland in 2010 and Ireland earlier this month.

"Pat's always played well for us end of year, specifically in this weather," Meyer said. "I think we've won every single game he's played here. He's a very level-headed guy and took the right options, especially the drop-goal.

"He's got a calm influence on the team, although he's only 24. It was the right type of game for him - wet, difficult conditions, under pressure and he showed he's a match-winner."

Tight-head prop Jannie du Plessis is likely to miss next week's Test with Italy due to hamstring and knee problems and could also miss the Wales Test. But the Springboks head to Padova in buoyant mood after responding from the Dublin defeat.

The quality of South Africa's defensive display delighted captain Jean de Villiers, who was also pleased with the use of limited ball.

"It was a very good defensive effort," the centre said. "Defence is also about understanding attack. If you understand attack you're able to defend well. The decision-making on defence was really good from one to 15.

"Mentally we showed up this week and that's what was lacking last week (against Ireland). It did come down to what we did with the ball when we had it. It's quality possession, rather than percentage of possession that counts.

"It was a pretty basic game in the fact that, yes, there were a lot of tries scored, but the ball didn't go much further than the 10-12 channel. Credit must go to our forwards in the work they put in and being clinical in that department.

"Sometimes you have to fight it out in difficult, wet conditions. Our execution was certainly much, much better."

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