England out claim Springbok scalp

  • Last Updated: November 23 2012, 14:22 GMT

Assistant coach Graham Rowntree delivered a passionate rallying cry ahead of England's showdown with South Africa at Twickenham and vowed: "We are out to put a few things right".

Rowntree: Looking to bounce back from last week's loss
Rowntree: Looking to bounce back from last week's loss

England have not beaten the Springboks in 10 Tests dating back to the autumn of 2006 and the current national team go into this encounter fuelled by the hurt of two near misses.

Rowntree felt England should have beaten Australia last week and they should have beaten the Springboks in the third Test of the summer tour, which ended in a 14-14 draw in Port Elizabeth.

"We are still hurting from last week. We lost and we are not happy about it," said Rowntree.

"It was a game we should have won.

"That last game in Port Elizabeth was a game we should have won.

"We had lost two games on that tour. We had shown some glimpses but we had given ourselves a mountain to climb by conceding tries.

"That last hour before the game in Port Elizabeth we decided that wasn't going to happen again - and we have to recreate that atmosphere tomorrow.

"I want to see the same as we saw in Port Elizabeth, that pure desire for it not to be a defeat again."

Rowntree's fighting words continued a theme set earlier in the week by Tom Wood, who returns to the England team as one of six changes from the 20-14 defeat to Australia.

Wood, Alex Corbisiero, Joe Launchbury and Ben Morgan have been charged with bringing steel to an England pack that was second best to the Wallabies for an hour.

"Of course I am hurting (about the scrum)," Rowntree said.

"Australia had a lot of experience and some wily characters. That is an area we have to have right tomorrow."

The forecast is for wind and rain at Twickenham, which further validates the selection of Mike Brown on the wing as England reprise the tactic that worked in Port Elizabeth of employing two full-backs to counter South Africa's kicking game.

Brown, who has replaced specialist finisher Charlie Sharples, is a rock under the high ball and he offers a long-ranger left-footed kicking option.

"There will probably be a lot of set pieces, a lot of kicking," Rowntree said.

"The kick receipts and the lineout will be interesting with the wind. We need to be switched on."

Ben Youngs edged the scrum-half debate, replacing Danny Care, again on the basis that England believe his kicking game can help deny the Springboks an attacking platform in red rose territory.

But ultimately, England will need to meet the physical Springbok challenge head on if they are to secure a first win over the South Africans since Andy Robinson's final days as head coach.

The Springboks taught England some bruising lessons on the summer tour and Wood led the battle cry this week, helping to set the tone in the generals meeting with captain Chris Robshaw.

"James Haskell says that playing South Africans is like a man test," said Wood, who will make his first Test start for England since the World Cup after overcoming a toe injury.

"They look at you, they look for your biggest guy and get theirs to run at him as hard as he can to see who comes out on top.

"If you do show any fear and if you do back off to any extent you've got a long day at the office. You have to match it head on."

Wood was fired up on Tuesday for the battle ahead.

Robshaw, who led the final captain's run training session at Twickenham, today is ready to build on the defeat to Australia, which ultimately came down to missed opportunities.

"The first couple of days after a defeat are always quite hard," said Robshaw, who was criticised in the wake of that defeat for England not kicking their goals as they chased the game.

England felt the Wallabies' defence was at breaking point and so kicked for the corners and took quick tap penalties but Thomas Waldrom dropped the ball over the line, Chris Ashton was tackled just short and Mike Brown was stripped of possession.

"We watched the video and realised there were opportunities out there. We need to go out there and prove a couple of people wrong and get the right result," Robshaw said.


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