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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
England v South Africa as it happened

Result: England 0-36 South Africa


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By Phil Harlow


2155: "It was boys against men. We sat back after the last World Cup and everyone else kept moving. A bit like the cricket, actually. Do we never learn?"
FC on 606

2150: "If the RFU were a PLC then investors would be looking for heads to roll. England have been a disaster since 2003 - it's time for a new regime from the top down."
Adam via text

80 mins: The full-time whistle is sounded and England have been absolutely destroyed, with their biggest ever World Cup defeat. Where on earth do the defending champions go from here?

South Africa have the look of a side who are on course for a tilt at the main prize. England, on the other hand, must be seriously worried about escaping from the group stages, with the prospect of Samoa on Saturday week looming ominously on the horizon.

78 mins: PEN England 0-36 South Africa
England are in desperate straits and South Africa are enjoying sticking the boot in. They work a huge overlap and a certain try is only stopped by Paul Sackey's knock-on.

The referee gives him the benefit of the doubt and doesn't sin-bin him, but Percy Montgomery steps up to kick another three points for the Springboks.

77 mins: Jamie Noon is down on the sidelines and clearly in some pain. Surely England cannot be suffering yet another serious injury? He is stretchered off.

75 mins: England are dominating the latter stages, but they have not really looked in any danger of scoring a try.

The ball is swept to the left touchline but Andy Farrell's pass out of the tackle only finds Percy Montgomery, and the chance is gone. Will England finish the game without a point to their name? All the chat about the danger of Farrell being England's first-choice goal-kicker has proven totally irrelevant - England have not even had a shot at goal.

70 mins: England are desperate to get some points on the board, and hold onto possession well in the South Africa 22.

But there is just no width whatsoever with Matt Stevens the widest player just to the right of the posts. He takes contact and feeds Josh Lewsey on the loop, but the winger is faced with four South Africa tacklers and loses the ball.

68 mins: Ben Kay escapes in midfield and makes good ground. He does the right thing, looking up in the hope of finding his support runners. He doesn't see a single white shirt, discovering several South African tacklers instead.

66 mins: England are almost undone again from the kick-off as South Africa interpass with precision. Danie Rossouw goes down the touchline and kicks ahead but the ball finds touch.

Finally some genuinely good news for Brian Ashton's men as Fourie du Preez comes off to be replaced by Ruan Pienaar. The scrum-half has been absolutely imperious this evening - did he make a single mistake?

64 mins: TRY England 0-33 South Africa
This is getting to the stage when the score could very quickly spiral out of control. A driving maul ends with the ball come back to the superb Fourie du Preez who runs around the blind-side, draws two tacklers and gives JP Pietersen his second try on a plate.

Once again, Percy Montgomery kicks the conversion.

63 mins: "England are stuck in the dark ages. Lumbering old men getting soundly thrashed. Embarrassing."
Alex via text

62 mins: Bryan Habana was only off for a blood injury as it turns out, and he returns to the fray. How England's coaches laughed at the sight of the most dangerous finisher returning to the field with his side 26 points up.

60 mins: England earn some half-decent possession and go through a few phases in the Springbok 22. Andy Farrell puts in a cross-kick to Mathew Tait but he is bundled off the ball in the air by Fourie du Preez.

England win a penalty for the challenge but hopes of getting on the scoreboard end after Andy Gomarsall gives Mike Catt a horrible pass around his ankles.

58 mins: Brian "lucky" Ashton will be looking to the skies once again. Jason Robinson, England's brightest spark of a dark night, gets the ball in space but pulls up in agony with a hamstring injury.

Could that be his last touch in rugby of either code? If so, it's a sad way for one of the game's true greats to go out. He gets a standing ovation as he comes off for Mathew Tait.

56 mins: The first bit of good news in some time for England as Bryan Habana comes off for South Africa, replaced by Ruan Pienaar.

Meanwhile, George Chuter comes on for Mark Regan at hooker.

55 mins: PEN England 0-26 South Africa
The Springboks are really turning the screw, opting to kick for the posts after England infringe at the breakdown yet again.

Percy Montgomery guides the ball between the posts from the right of the sticks.

54 mins: Another change for England as Tom Rees is taken off to be replaced by Lewis Moody. Pretty much a like-for-like substitution.

53 mins: Jason Robinson tries to force it, running across field before getting caught by Francois Steyn and giving a suicidal pass. JP Pietersen snaps it up and releases Jaque Fourie but his run down to the blind-side is ended short of the try-line.

51 mins: Jason Robinson is having one of the better games among the men in white as he takes a steepling up-and-under bravely and recycles the ball.

48 mins: England get possession in South Africa's 22 after turning over South Africa. Jason Robinson threatens with a jinking run and the ball is recycled out to the right.

Andy Farrell's long pass finds Ben Kay. The England lock, for reasons which will need to be explained to me later, attempts to chip over the defender. Let's just say that Kay's kicking skills are roughly equivalent to my line-out skills. And I'm 5ft 6in.

JP Pietersen calls the simplest mark of his career and the chance is gone.

46 mins: PEN England 0-23 South Africa
A demoralising start to the second half as South Africa get the first points. England are penalised for hands in the ruck and Percy Montgomery makes no mistake with the kick.

44 mins: A fantastic piece of skill from Bryan Habana averts a dangerous situation for South Africa. Mike Catt kicks in behind him but he turns, collects just inside the touchline, rounds Josh Lewsey and kicks a superb clearance into touch.

42 mins: Mike Catt finds his touch with his first kick of the half. England need him to run the game if they are to regain some pride from this fixture.

41 mins: The second half gets under way, and there is one change with scrum-half Shaun Perry - who did not have his best 40 minutes to be fair - replaced by veteran Andy Gomarsall.

2056: "This is the worst England side to contest a World Cup since 1987 and the scoreline shows it."
fep on 606

2055: "I think I'm going to watch the Women's World Cup - it's a shame the way England are playing but they just cannot play better."
FW on 606

2053: "In amongst the gloom and soul searching, let's remember England are still world champions for another month or so whatever happens tonight. And we can do other sports too..."
Tom Graham via text

2051: "Fourie du Preez has been nothing short of breathtaking."
BBC Sport's Matt Dawson, a 2003 World Cup winner with England, in the Stade de France

40 mins: The half-time whistle goes, and Brian Ashton will need to invent some new, previously unheard words of magical inspiration to turn this one around.

South Africa have been in almost total control. England have not looked in any danger whatsoever of scoring a try.

38 mins: TRY England 0-20 South Africa
This could get very ugly (depending on your view). Fourie du Preez is absolutely running this game and he sets up another Springbok try after England lock Ben Kay is turned over in possession.

Os du Randt sends out a scruffy pass which the onrushing Andy Farrell tries to hack forward. He misses with the boot and Du Preez launches a devastating counterattack, making 45m before drawing the last man and sending JP Pietersen in for a easy run-in.

Percy Montgomery adds another two points.

35 mins: PEN England 0-13 South Africa
England prop Matt Stevens concedes another penalty for the most blatant obstruction on Fourie du Preez, right in front of referee Joel Jutge.

Percy Montgomery is much more at home with a static ball, and curls in a lovely effort from the right.

32 mins: A brilliant touch-finder from Butch James forces England to throw into a line-out on their own 5m line.

Mark Regan decides to go long and Juan Smith is millimetres away from his second try. He gets his fingertips to the ball, but cannot quite gather it in.

Mike Catt makes a hurried clearance into midfield, giving Percy Montgomery all the time he needs to size up a drop-goal, but it's just as bad an effort as his earlier one.

30 mins: Andy Farrell dawdles over a kick inside his 22 and sees his attempted clearance charged down by Butch James. England, once again, are lucky as the loose ball goes their way with Jason Robinson able to dot down for a 22 drop-out.

28 mins: A lovely break from Jason Robinson after he calls a mark. He taps and goes and beats two or three defenders before dummying himself, almost tripping over as he tries to find his support.

27 mins: Francois Steyn has another go at a drop-goal. The Springboks are addicted to them at the moment, but they'll have to hit them an awful lot better than that if they are to make them count.

26 mins: "This isn't pretty so far from England, it seems there is no confidence in the backs and not enough punch up front in the forwards. Not good enough I'm afraid."
MC on 606

25 mins: Percy Montgomery misses with an ambitious long-range drop-goal, hooking it wide of the right-hand post.

23 mins: Fourie du Preez puts up a box kick at the end of a series of drives down the blind-side. Paul Sackey is unlucky, knocking on under intense pressure from JP Pietersen.

21 mins: England escape by the skin of their teeth after a moment of brilliance from scrum-half Fourie du Preez. He punts a penalty into wide open space, and centre Jaque Fourie gets the bounce of the ball and collects.

Fortunately for England, Josh Lewsey is back to put in a try-saving tackle on Fourie as the Springbok centre knocks on in the act of scoring.

19 mins: I'll cut and paste this from the last entry - it could be a phrase I'll come back to a few times: basic errors are killing the defending world champions so far.

England win a scrum against the head in the South Africa half, but scrum-half Shaun Perry puts a kick straight into touch. His forwards will not be thanking him for that.

18 mins: Andy Farrell makes some good ground by going through Bakkies Botha. The ball is swung out to Paul Sackey on the left wing who takes contact and lays the ball back.

England fail to commit enough numbers to the breakdown and the ball is turned over. Basic errors are killing the defending world champions so far.

16 mins: England win a penalty at the scrum only for Mike Catt to miss touch. Criminal.

15 mins: Victor Matfield takes a line-out clean off the top but is promptly stitched up by his lifters who drop him like a stone. He spends some time on the floor rubbing his shoulder but eventually gets up for the scrum.

13 mins: South Africa make a bit of a mess of a backs move and fumble the ball. Paul Sackey hacks it forward into their 22, and England regain possession.

The ball is slowed down though, and when it comes back Mike Catt has little choice but to go for a drop-goal which ends up wide of the posts.

12 mins: England are betraying signs of panic as Mark Regan attempts a quick line-out to Tom Rees at the front. It's not straight and Rees knocks on in the tackle anyway. Not what the doctor ordered.

10 mins: PEN England 0-10 South Africa
It's a point a minute so far as centre Francois Steyn puts South Africa further ahead with a beautifully struck penalty after Matt Stevens was pinged for not rolling away on the floor.

8 mins: Bryan Habana gets his hands on the ball for the first time and dances around two tackles before Josh Lewsey brings him down from behind.

6 mins: TRY England 0-7 South Africa
A perfect start for South Africa, but England only have themselves to blame. JP Pietersen escapes the attention of Shaun Perry on the blind-side, and races along the touchline.

Paul Sackey makes his tackle, but the offload finds Fourie du Preez. Jason Robinson can only tap-tackle him, and his pass inside finds flanker Juan Smith supporting well to score under the posts.

Percy Montgomery adds the conversion.

4 mins: Mike Catt finds a respectable touch with his first kick, but England commit another infringement at the line-out. They can ill afford to give away territory like this.

2 mins: Ben Kay concedes the first penalty of the match, getting himself offside as he challenges South Africa's line-out.

The Springboks win the subsequent line-out, only for Bakkies Botha to knock-on after landing on terra firma.

1 min: England's Andy Farrell - wearing the number 12 shirt - kicks off long, and South Africa take it cleanly. They drive it 10 yards or so before Francois Steyn clears upfield.

It doesn't find touch, and England full-back Jason Robinson makes 50m with a great clearance.

2001: South Africa are not quite so loud in their rendition of their anthem, but there is a steely determination in every set of eyes. We're pretty much there...

1958: England immediately go into a tight huddle before lining up for the national anthems. England's is first, and every member of the squad is singing their lungs out.

1957: "As the players' names are being read out over the tannoy, each member of the England team is being riotously cheered. England will not lack for support in the stadium tonight.

"The lower tier of both ends behind the posts are predominantly white shirts. Atmosphere really cranked up now as kick-off approaches. Here come the teams..."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade de France

1955: Martin Corry is waiting in the tunnel with his team-mates. They are waiting for their Springbok opponents to emerge.

South Africa captain John Smit, with a cuddly toy under his arm, walks slowly out of the dressing room and lines up alongside Corry. He doesn't give his English counterpart so much as a glance.

1953: If John Inverdale is to be believed, England will at least have the better of the support inside the stadium. He reckons 60% of the fans are in England colours.

1950: Let's just remind ourselves of the teams on show at the Stade de France:

England: Robinson; Sackey, Noon, Farrell, Lewsey; Catt, Perry; Sheridan, Regan, Stevens, Shaw, Kay, Corry (capt), Rees, Easter.
Replacements: Chuter, Freshwater, Borthwick, Moody, Gomarsall, Richards, Tait.

South Africa: Montgomery; Pietersen, Fourie, Steyn, Habana; James, Du Preez; Du Randt, Smit (capt), Br Botha, Ba Botha, Matfield, Van Heerden, Smith, Rossouw.
Replacements: Du Plessis, Van der Linde, Muller, Skinstad, Pienaar, Pretorius, Olivier.

1943: ITV pick out England prop Matt Stevens as a man to watch, partly down to his appearance on last year's Celebrity X-Factor. The clip of him murdering Kanye West's "Gold Digger" is played and studio guest Francois Pienaar, South Africa's World Cup-winning captain in 1995, just shakes his head.

1939: OK, we've spelled out some of the factors that make England massive underdogs (1855 entry), but how about accentuating the positive for the defending champions?

In England's favour is the fact that:

  • South Africa's superstar flanker Schalk Burger is suspended

  • hard-nut centre Jean de Villiers is out injured

  • that's pretty much it

    1936: There is a real big-game atmosphere building up inside the Stade de France, with the camera flashes capturing the players running through some last-minute preparations.

    The forwards are practising a few line-outs, a crucial battleground in tonight's game.

    1930: "Some of the kickers on both sides are out practising their routines on the pitch. Mathew Tait is working on his punting, Andy Gomarsall is trying a few drop-goals.

    "No sign of Andy Farrell or Mike Catt though."
    BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade de France

    1928: "The big stage makes life very hard for the favourites, plus the underdogs get a rush of adrenalin.

    "Add to that the accumulation of injuries, suspensions and such like, and you start to see that every game is a one-off and the result is hard to call.

    "England will be super motivated (as will the Boks) and I expect a very hard-fought contest. South Africa could run away with it, but it's equally likely there will be just a single score in it either way."
    slowpass on 606

    1920: "With 40 minutes to go until kick-off on a balmy Paris evening, the Stade de France is relatively quiet, with only a few hundred people in their seats.

    "The Springboks player are strolling around the pitch, getting their bearings, while coach Jake White is deep in conversation with his 'technical consultant' Eddie Jones, the former Wallabies coach, perhaps plotting exactly where Bryan Habana will split the English defence open?

    "Outside, in the bars surrounding the ground, the red rose army are fuelling up for what could be a painful evening."
    BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade de France

    1917: Matt Dawson, now working for the BBC Radio 5live out in France, says England will have to limit themselves to a safety-first style if they want to have any hope of victory.

    "England will have a gameplan, and I think it will be similar to Argentina's against France in the first game," he says.

    "If England try to get too expansive there will be only one winner. Bryan Habana and co will rip them to shreds. I think Mike Catt will take control and there will be lots of up-and-unders and tactical kicking."

    1913: As if England weren't in enough trouble already, former coach Andy Robinson has tipped them to pull off a surprise victory over the Springboks.

    The last time Robinson, who lost 13 of his 22 Tests in charge of England, made such a bold claim was to advise his successor Brian Ashton not to pick Jonny Wilkinson for the first match of the Six Nations.

    Wilkinson scored 27 points in a fairytale comeback.

    1900: BBC Sport presenter John Inverdale is not totally ruling out an England win in the Stade de France, but his case is not exactly overflowing with conviction.

    "All logic says England cannot win this game - but sport is not about logic," he says on Radio 5live.

    1855: Evening all, and welcome to the build-up to the pivotal clash of Pool A as England, the defending champions, take on South Africa, the side second in the world rankings.

    It is difficult to know where to start in terms of putting England's situation in context. These are a few of the pertinent facts:

  • captain Phil Vickery is suspended

  • first-choice fly-half and goal-kicker Jonny Wilkinson is injured

  • second-choice fly-half and goal-kicker Olly Barkley is injured

  • Andy Farrell, who has never scored a point at international level in union, is England's goal-kicker

    England 0-36 South Africa
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    Sackey ready for Habana contest
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    09 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
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    05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment


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