Record-breaking Boks storm past England - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Record-breaking Boks storm past England

By Julian Guyer 23/11/2008 02:01:46 PM Comments (0)

England manager Martin Johnson called on his players to show their true "character" after a record-breaking 42-6 defeat at the hands of world champions South Africa.

But with Tri-Nations title-holders New Zealand on their way to Twickenham, England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain admitted things might get worse before they got better, with the All Blacks on a verge of a grand slam after beating Wales 29-9.

This Twickenham trouncing represented England's heaviest margin of defeat in all their home internationals, a sequence dating back to 1872.

"They (the players) are pretty desolate down there. To lose like that at home is a big disappointment," Johnson said.

"But we've said it's all about character. They are still our best players and we need to stand up this week and be counted and come out against arguably the best team in the world in New Zealand."

South Africa's 36-point margin, the same they achieved in a 36-0 thrashing of England in a pool match at last year's World Cup before defeating the same team 15-6 in the final, comfortably surpassed the 21-point gap New Zealand managed in a 41-20 win at Twickenham two years ago.

England's defence was torn to shreds by a South Africa side which made the most of turnovers and scored five tries through Danie Rossouw, Ruan Pienaar, Adrian Jacobs, Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana.

Four of those were converted, three by Pienaar and one by Francois Steyn with five-eighth Pienaar also landing three penalties on his was way to a match haul of 20 points.

All England could manage in reply was two first-half penalties from fly-half Danny Cipriani.

South Africa had all but won the game at half-time when they were 20-6 ahead and, although England rallied at the start of the second period, superb defence kept Johnson's men at bay.

England, beaten 28-14 at home by Australia the previous week, were once again, in their manager's words, taught a "brutal lesson".

England have now won just four of their 21 Tests against the Tri-Nations teams since lifting the World Cup in 2003.

"Playing these games will make them better players," said Johnson.

"It only gets harder in terms of the team we are playing against and the week we are going to have. But that's when you find out about the characters in our team, our coaching staff and management and myself."

Despite everything, Johnson saw signs of progress.

"I've beaten the Springboks in three games and not created as many chances as we've had today to score tries," he said.

"South Africa defended very well and stopped us. They gave us a lesson in some areas of the game, obviously the main one was scoring tries, turning pressure into points."

Johnson insisted he had no choice but to stick with his current, and largely youthful, group of players.

"There's no 50-cap cavalry coming over the hill in a lot of positions," he said.

"This is our squad and we back them."

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