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South Africa 10-25 England: Owen Farrell helps Eddie Jones' men avoid series whitewash

Mirror logo Mirror 23/06/2018 Alex Spink
a group of men playing a game of football: Chris Robshaw charges forward © Getty Images Europe Chris Robshaw charges forward

Owen Farrell kicked England to their first victory since February to end a run of five straight Test defeats and lift the pressure off Eddie Jones.

Leading by example, captain Farrell defied dreadful conditions to land all six of his shots on goal and avert a series whitewash.

The occasion offered a long-awaited opportunity for Danny Cipriani to strut his stuff 10 years on from his last start.

a man standing in front of a crowd: Jonny May is congratulated by teammate Ben Youngs © AFP Jonny May is congratulated by teammate Ben Youngs

But he was a relatively peripheral figure as Farrell grabbed hold of the occasion and delivered a display of near error-free rugby.

It was what England had cried out for over four winless months; a solid forward platform and control from the decision makers in the back field.

A Jonny May try, created by a delightful Cipriani chip, sealed the victory nine minutes from time.

a man with a football ball on a field: Owen Farrell helped kick England to victory © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Owen Farrell helped kick England to victory

England had learned the hard way in this series that a good start guarantees nothing but this time they got their noses in front and found a way to keep them there until half-time.

In Johannesburg and Bloemfontein they had fallen away alarmingly as the effects of altitude kicked in. But here at sea level they comfortably remained in the contest.

The reasons for that were not all down to them. Conditions underfoot were treacherous. Factor in a slippery ball and it was the side that made fewer errors that prospered.

Eddie Jonescelebrates wtih try scorer May © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Eddie Jonescelebrates wtih try scorer May

To concede only five penalties was a sensational improvement on the first two Tests when they shipped 30 in surrendering the series with a game to spare.

Farrell set the ball rolling by kicking his first two penalties, Tom Curry caught the eye at the breakdown and the rest of them mucked in to execute the most basic of game plans.

Quite right too, given where ambition and over-eagerness had got them at Ellis Park and Free State Stadium.

a group of people playing football on a field: Maro Itoje bursts upfield © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Maro Itoje bursts upfield

You felt for Cipriani, who barely touched the ball in his first start for 10 years, but far better to let his opposite number Elton Jantjies make mistakes than risk giving up momentum by self-inflicted errors.

A flat atmosphere didn’t help the home team but boss Rassie Erasmus’ decision to replace his entire front row most certainly did.

a rugby player with a football ball: Pieter-Steph du Toit is brought crashing down © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Pieter-Steph du Toit is brought crashing down

Within a minute new prop Steven Kitshoff had barged his way through two England tackles, his pack flooded through after him and Jantjies sent a grubber through for Jesse Kriel to score the game’s first try - then landed a difficult conversion.

To their credit England hit straight back, Farrell nailing a 40-metre penalty to recapture the lead then extending it with his fifth successful kick from as many attempts.

a rugby player with a football ball: Nathan Hughes is stopped in his tracks © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Nathan Hughes is stopped in his tracks

This time the Boks could not respond. As Farrell and his forwards suffocated the life out of the contest, Cipriani sent an exquisite diagonal into the right corner.

May pinned back his ears and won a foot race to the ball to maintain his try a game record.

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The relief in English ranks was easy to understand. It has been a long time between drinks.

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