South Africa vs England won’t be dead rubber

Both the South African and England camps have insisted that the third Test between the teams this week will be anything but a dead rubber match as the series is aleady won.

England have lost their last nine matches against the Springboks and are desperate to end their losing streak as well as leave South Africa with a positive.

England have been transformed their poor and ill-disciplined Rugby World Cup under new coach Stuart Lancaster but a 3-0 series sweep by the Boks would leave a bad taste in their mouths.

Lancaster’s new-look team was resilient in Durban and Johannesburg, but narrow losses there have left the tourists facing a whitewash in Port Elizabeth.

The coach says that whatever happens in the final Test match on this tour it won’t define England’s season but it will be lasting feeling for his first period in charge.

“There’s no such thing as a dead rubber in international rugby. It’s about the next game and winning the next game.

“We’re desperate to go out there and win the game and finish the season on a high,” Lancaster said.

“I said to the players at the start of the week … everyone’s got the opportunity to finish the season as a winner.

“That’s part of the motivation. It has been a long season for the players … but it’s about performing on Saturday.”

England lost 36-27 in the second test last Saturday despite a spirited second-half fightback and will again have to counter South Africa’s physical style and powerful ball-carriers for a first win.

“We know how direct they are,” said Haskell, whose last test was at the Rugby World Cup.

“You have to rise to the challenge.”

In the South African camp Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has made it perfectly clear that he wants his team to win the match and give no quarter.

“I know South Africa needs a Springbok team that does well. It is more the pressure you put on yourself and I think it is more a pressure of excellence and high standards,” said Meyer.

“I don’t even look at the score, to me it is about playing perfect rugby for 80 minutes. It is tough to get there and it is going to take time with this team.”

The Bok coach would thus not be satisfied with anything less than a clean sweep 3-0 victory over the Roses at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium on Saturday.

So far everything has gone according to plan for Meyer with the two victories, but in the greater scheme of things the side still had a lot to improve on, he said.

“I am very happy with the huge strides the team has made in some areas of our play. I think there are a lot of people who are surprised with the way we play,” he said.

“This is not even ten percent of where we need to be, and it is going to be a long journey, and I am very proud of the team, and there is pressure.

“There is always pressure, it doesn’t matter how well you play, so there will always be pressure if you are a national coach.”

South African skipper Jean de Villiers said the team had not thought of a white-wash, but had set their sights on winning the match.

“That’s got nothing to do with this weekend’s game. It is a new Test. We’ve got some injuries and they’ve got a lot of injuries as well,” De Villiers said.

“It is still Test rugby with England versus South Africa and both teams want to win that game.

“We’ve got a lot of things we want to improve on, but the main focus is to win this game.

“We are playing in PE. People are really desperate for rugby here and we’ve seen the support here in the week and we are really excited about the game.”

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