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Rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson
"England put up a terrific performance in defeat"
 real 28k

Clive Woodward
"We should have won"
 real 28k

Lawrence Dallaglio
"It was very tough indeed"
 real 28k

Saturday, 17 June, 2000, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Agony for tourists in Pretoria
Perry and van Straaten
Perry is tackled by Springbok match-winner van Straaten
South Africa 18-13 England

Luckless England suffered agonising defeat by South Africa in an epic first Test in Pretoria.

Clive Woodward's men produced one of their best recent displays against southern hemisphere opposition - but missed out on victory following a highly controversial decision.

English hopes of avenging South Africa's victory in last year's World Cup quarter-final were quashed by fly-half Braam van Straaten - and the video official.

Van Straaten kicked the Springboks to victory with a record haul of six penalties, while the official in the grandstand - on duty in an England match for the first time - denied them a second-half penalty try that could have secured a stunning win.

Instead they were left clutching at the straws of moral victory, Dan Luger having scored the only try of the match on his return to the side after long-term injury.

Lloyd had quite a battle with Barry

Luger sprinted over just before the break as England's backs - marshalled by a virtuoso performance by Austin Healey, who was a late replacement for Johnny Wilkinson at stand-off - created major problems for the opposition.

The Springboks were equally impressive as the two sides traded huge hits in a thrillingly even contest.

Brilliant defence

Not only were England in excellent form with the ball in hand, but they were also formidable in defence.

Their lines were never breached, with all the Springboks' points coming from the boot of van Straaten.

The South African fly-half landed five penalties in the first 22 minutes - but England's rearguard was so stout that they did not concede another point until injury-time, as South Africa suffered a 58-minute scoreless period.

Video blank

With 54 minutes gone, England were trailing by just 15-10 when they were denied the score that would have taken them in front.

Healey launched a superb counter-attack with a tap-penalty on his own line, the ball was chipped over the top of the static defence and Stimpson sprinted past South African skipper Andre Vos onto the ball.

Bracken had a great game at scrum half

Stimpson kicked on, then followed the ball over the line - but as he desperately juggled in a bid to touch down, he appeared to be tackled by Vos.

Referee Colin Hawke asked the fourth official to view the incident on video replay. But after a long wait, the verdict was not, as expected, a penalty try but a Stimpson knock-on - to the incredulity of the England camp.

The decision was a massive blow to the tourists, who at that stage had looked the more likely team to win a pulsating contest.

England's backs had impressed with their fluid passing and incisive running - and their forwards launched wave after wave of attack, as the team finally looked like realising coach Woodward's vision of "total rugby".

But there was to be no famous victory, as South Africa held their lines in the face of some concerted late pressure to win the game and take control of the two-match series.


South Africa: Montgomery, Paulse, Fleck, Barry, P Rossouw, van Straaten, van der Westhuizen, Kempson, Marais, Meyer, Boome, Otto, Erasmus, Venter, Vos.

Replacements: Smit, Le Roux, van den Bergh, Krige, Van Zyl, Williams, Delport.

England: Perry, Stimpson, Tindall, Catt, Luger, Healey, Bracken, Leonard, Greening, White, Johnson, Grewcock, Hill, Back, Dallaglio.

Replacements: Regan, Flatman, Shaw, Worsley, Lloyd, Wood, Volley.

Referee: Colin Hawke (New Zealand)

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