South Africa end England U18’s three year run

England’s three-year winning streak at Under 18 international level is over after they went down 23-17 against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

They scored three tries to one with wing Mark Jennings (Lymm HS and Sale Sharks) and centres Tommy Bell (Bacup and Rawtenstall GS and Sale Sharks) and Elliot Daly (Whitgift and London Wasps) touching down and Bell adding a conversion.

But despite dominating the game they failed to put away some clear-cut chances and were punished by a dogged South Africa side who scored a try through Free State centre Paul Jordaan with fly half Johan Goosen kicking five penalties and Jordaan one.

Although the result ended a winning run of 19 internationals stretching back to July 2007, head coach John Fletcher was still upbeat at the end of a tour in which England beat Namibia 35-10 and France 66-19, scoring 18 tries in their three games.

“We just lacked precision and although we scored three tries to one we left a couple of straightforward ones out there and that’s hard to take,” said Fletcher.

“You couldn’t fault us for effort and we had enough ball and enough chances to score but that’s how it goes.

“Great credit to South Africa – they really hung on in there – and their reaction tells its own story. They got out of jail and are incredibly pleased to have beaten us. It shows the regard we’re held in. We expect to win and that wasn’t the case a few years ago.

“Our lads are very upset and it shows how much they care about the loss but we’ll all move on and they will learn from it which is the important thing. It’s been a great trip and they’ve conducted themselves brilliantly.”

Goosen kicked two penalties in the opening 15 minutes and a third shortly before the break with a Jennings try and Bell conversion leaving England trailing 9-7 at half time.

They clicked into gear early in the second half with Bell scoring in the corner and Daly’s touchdown opening up a 17-9 lead going into the final 15 minutes.

England were judged to have lost the ball twice over the line by referee Pieter de Villiers and had a third chance ruled out by the TMO at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Jordaan kicked a fourth penalty for the Baby Boks and broke away for the solo try that levelled the scores before Goosen struck from 45 and 50 metres inside the last five minutes.

“We are pretty pleased chuffed with this victory that shows that we have the talent in our country and we can compete and get the results against a side like England. It’s important now that we keep these guys together,” said South Africa coach Eric Sauls.

England Under 18: Ben Ransom (Tonbridge and Saracens); Mark Jennings (Lymm HS and Sale Sharks), Elliot Daly (Whitgift and London Wasps), Tommy Bell (Bacup and Rawtenstall GS and Sale Sharks), Charlie Walker (Oakham and Harlequins); Joel Hodgson (RGS Newcastle and Newcastle Falcons), Dan Robson (Hartpury College and Gloucester Rugby); Nick Auterac (Oaklands College and Saracens), Koree Britton (Ivybridge College and Gloucester Rugby), Anthony Brennan (Twyford C of E and London Wasps), George Merrick (Whitgift and Harlequins), Dominic Barrow (Prince Henry’s GS, Otley and Leeds Carnegie), Will Skuse (Bryanston and Bath Rugby), Chris Walker (Prince Henry’s GS, Otley and Leeds Carnegie, captain), Billy Vunipola (Harrow and London Wasps, vice captain)

Replacements: Nathan Moris (Sedbergh and Newcastle Falcons), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Truro College and Exeter Chiefs), Kyle Sinckler (Epsom College and Harlequins), Will Spencer (St Paul’s Catholic and Bath Rugby), Sam Northcote-Green (Dulwich College and London Wasps), Henry Slade (Plymouth College and Exeter Chiefs), Sam Hill (Ivybridge College and Exeter Chiefs), Anthony Watson (St George’s College, Weybridge and London Irish).

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