South Africa 58 England 10

Substitute James Simpson-Daniel claimed a consolation try for England, while Jonny Wilkinson slotted a penalty and conversion, but the tourists just had no answer.

England arrived at Vodacom Park on a damage-limitation exercise after seeing their preparations rocked by illness.

Head coach Brian Ashton opted to leave behind players from European finalists Leicester, Wasps and Bath, but a stomach virus swept through the squad at their Johannesburg training base, ruling out the likes of David Strettle, Andy Farrell and Peter Richards.

Gloucester prop Nick Wood, meanwhile, was to have made his Test debut, but a torn chest muscle suffered during training on Thursday meant a call-up for 34-year-old Saracens loosehead Kevin Yates.

Yates set a new England record for the longest time between caps, breaking John Bentley’s mark of nine years, 44 days.

He last appeared in England colours against Argentina two weeks short of 10 years ago, and he packed down in a front row alongside Mark Regan and Stuart Turner with a combined age of 104.

It was an unfamiliar England side that took the field led by wing Jason Robinson, with scrum-half Andy Gomarsall making his first Test appearance since late 2004 and the pack containing a total cap tally of only marginally more than 50.

South Africa struck first through a Percy Montgomery penalty awarded against England flanker Chris Jones.

England gained a seventh-minute penalty that Wilkinson uncharacteristically rifled wide.

Wilkinson’s general game appeared in good order though, as he took on South Africa’s defence, but the Springboks’ powerful tackling soon began leaving its mark.

Debutant full-back Mike Brown required treatment following one crunching collision, and there were signs of South Africa moving up a gear when Montgomery ended a spell of excellent defensive work by slotting his second penalty for a 6-0 lead after 17 minutes.

Inevitably England could only keep the Springboks out for so long, and two converted tries in three minutes took South Africa out of sight.

Willemse claimed the first, crossing on an overlap from Montgomery’s pass, and, although England’s impressive response was led by a sweeping Mathew Tait break, it ended in misery.

Tait found Wilkinson in support, yet supporting flanker Jones then fired out a ludicrously ambitious pass to back-row colleague Nick Easter, and it bounced straight to Bulls speed king Bryan Habana.

He required no second invitation to outstrip flailing England cover on a 70-metre sprint to the line, and Montgomery’s second successive touchline conversion left the tourists in all sorts of strife, despite Wilkinson opening their account through a 50-metre penalty.

Montgomery completed his penalty hat-trick six minutes before the break, and then South Africa struck another blow when centre Jean de Villiers snaffled loose ball and raced 60 metres to score after prop Stuart Turner spilled Tait’s pass.

It was a miserable score for England to concede, and they trooped off 30-3 behind.

England made a half-time change, sending on Worcester captain Pat Sanderson for openside flanker Andy Hazell, while a double South Africa switch saw chances for prop C J van der Linde and lock Johann Muller, with B J Botha and Bakkies Botha making way.

England began promisingly after the break with the impressive Tait running strongly at South Africa and South Africa blew a glorious chance to extend their lead when they tried to send substitute prop Gurthro Steenkamp over from 10 metres instead of using their pacy backs.A further England change saw Roy Winters gain a first cap, replacing Jones and the tourists suffered yet another injury setback when wing Iain Balshaw was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.

James Simpson-Daniel replaced the unfortunate Balshaw, and he immediately made a mark, crossing

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