Following England’s 42-39 loss to South Africa, coach Eddie Jones was honest in assessing his team’s shortcomings.
England managed to blow a 21-point lead as South Africa inflicted a fourth successive Test defeat on Jones’ side.
“I thought the first 20 minutes we were at times brilliant and maybe we got seduced by the game and that might have been the cause for some uncharacteristic individual discipline errors, which allowed South Africa back in the game,” Jones said.
See what else Jones had to say in the video below.
England crashed to a fifth successive defeat after a blistering start gave way to a dramatic collapse as South Africa emerged 42-39 winners from a thrilling first Test at Ellis Park.
A scarcely-believable 24-3 lead had been amassed by the 18th minute, with George Ford acting as ringmaster as Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell ran in superb tries.
But the match was turned on its head when Faf de Klerk orchestrated a stunning first-half comeback supported by the brilliance of Willie le Roux that enabled South Africa to take a 29-27 lead into half-time.
Electric debutant S’busiso Nkosi crossed twice to bring Ellis Park to his feet.
The second half was dominated by the Springboks whose customary physicality was matched by a cutting edge in attack overseen by De Klerk and Le Roux, but it was the boot of Handre Pollard that did most of the scoreboard damage through three penalties.
It was the perfect outcome to celebrate a landmark moment in South African history after back row Siya Kolisi had become the first black captain of their Test team.
Here are the key takeaways from the game.
The Springboks didn’t bring the energy required in the early stages and trailed 24-3 after just 18 minutes, with England aggressive and utterly ruthless with ball in hand.
The visitors were well-structured and efficient in attack, cutting the Boks apart with three tries through Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly and Mike Brown.
Erasmus’ side looked nervous and didn’t look like they believed in their fitness or pace out wide, and seemed unwilling to go for big efforts, but they refused to buckle.
At 21 points down, they looked down and out but came storming back and crossed the line four times through S’busiso Nkosi (2), Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux to lead at the break.
Superb resolve when it appeared like it was game over.
A monster of a man for just 5′ 6″.
De Klerk continued his superb form that saw him nominated for the Aviva Premiership Player of the Year award with Sale last month with another man-of-the-match performance.
The 26-year-old is a model of consistency any time he gets the ball in hand, with his box kicking, crisp passing, decision-making and ability to marshal his pack effectively around ruck time all at the centre of his skillset.
In addition, his ability to take players into an attack from any position is invaluable, as well as initiating breaks that led to his own try on 20 minutes.
Made superb tackles on Chris Robshaw and Henry Slade in the second half. An absolute work horse.
South Africa improvements
There’s no doubt the Springboks made some poor decisions with dropped balls and some desperate missed tackles, but overall it was a vast improvement under the early Rassie Erasmus reign.
The contest had everything from big hits, strong defences, a bucket load of tries and some back-line flair.
Erasmus’ side showed that if every player reaches the required intensity, no team, not even England with their superior squad depth, will roll them over.
A definite template to build up excitement for the next two Tests in Bloemfontein and Cape Town, however tightness in defence and handling needs to improve.
For spells of that first half England looked a different side from the one that suffered three successive defeats in the Six Nations, but they failed to live up to the standard after the Springboks pegged them following a blossoming start from the Red Rose.
Eddie Jones’s side didn’t let themselves down physically or tactically, but it was their inaccuracy in execution that hurt them, and how they set up in defence.
From George Ford’s poor kicking to Maro Itoje’s concession of too many penalties to Elliot Daly’s kick out over the end line, and the forwards’ inability to get any sort of foothold, the Red Rose wilted as the game progressed.
In contrast, if they held on to the ball and went through the phases and stayed patient, they could have opted for a different route to break down the Springboks defence.
They need to make changes and come up with a better game plan ahead of next Saturday’s second Test, most notably some more creativity in attack and more accuracy in defence is required.
Wales prop Wyn Jones has been ruled out of the first Test against Argentina on Saturday and will miss the rest of the summer tour.
The 26-year-old suffered a calf injury in training, ending his hopes of winning a 10th cap against the Pumas in San Juan.
“Jones will return to the Scarlets for further diagnosis and prognosis,” said a Welsh Rugby Union statement announcing the news.
Fellow Scarlet Rob Evans will now win his 26th cap after initially being named among the replacements.
Ospreys prop Nicky Smith is promoted to the replacements’ bench.
Wales beat South Africa 22-20 in Washington DC last weekend ahead of their two-Test series against Argentina.