x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

International rugby round-up: England secure draw

England hold butter-fingered Springboks as Wales lose by a point against Australia.

Danny Care scores the lone try for England.
Danny Care scores the lone try for England.

South Africa 14 England 14

England avoided a series whitewash when they battled to a 14-14 draw with South Africa in the third and final Test at Port Elizabeth.

The visitors ended a nine-match losing streak against the Springboks as they secured only the second draw between the two teams.

Scrumhalf Danny Care notched the only try for England while flyhalf Toby Flood kicked one penalty and his replacement Owen Farrell booted two more.

The hosts responded with a try from wing JP Pietersen and three penalties from Morne Steyn but the flyhalf did not enjoy his best day with the boot as he missed two penalties and one conversion attempt.

South Africa had only themselves to blame for failing to win, committing a plethora of handling errors and producing some aimless tactical kicking against an England team who defended well. Flood and Steyn traded early penalties but England's ball retention was superior in the first quarter.

Care, recalled after Ben Youngs injured his shoulder in the second Test, caught South Africa off-guard with a quick tap penalty which led to the scrumhalf diving over for a try despite the attentions of two defenders. Flood missed the conversion as England went 8-3 up after 11 minutes.

Care's try seemed to invigorate the Springboks and Steyn reduced the deficit with a long-range penalty before another penalty in the 28th minute helped the hosts take the lead for the first time.

England struck the first blow of the second half when Farrell booted a close-range penalty. The home team's cause was helped when England captain Dylan Hartley was yellow-carded in the 51st minute for intentionally slowing the ball down at a ruck.

Pietersen then took a 62nd-minute pass from replacement scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and touched down in the corner for an unconverted try. Farrell, though, saved the day for England by kicking his second penalty to make it 14-14.

New Zealand 60 Ireland 0

Sonny Bill Williams scored two of four tries in a first quarter surge sparked by fly-half Aaron Cruden that carried New Zealand to a nine-try 60-0 win over Ireland in the third rugby test on Saturday for a clean sweep of the three-match series.

Cruden produced an outstanding cameo before being forced from the field by injury, beguiling the Irish defense with his running and passing skills and creating tries for Williams, Sam Cane and Ben Smith to give the All Blacks a 26-0 lead after only 24 minutes.

Ireland, which had hoped to build on a competitive second test performance, never recovered and suffered their heaviest loss to New Zealand.

Australia 20 Wales 19

Australia relied on the boot of Berrick Barnes to edge Wales 20-19 on Saturday and secure a 3-0 whitewash in a series that was anything but one-sided.

Wales number eight Ryan Jones and Australia centre Rob Horne scored second half tries but in a match dominated by the whistle of referee Craig Joubert it was the five penalties from fly-half Barnes that gave the Wallabies a seventh consecutive win over the Welsh.

Australia had already wrapped up the series with victories in Brisbane and Melbourne and, as in those two tests, they were pushed to the limit by the Six Nations champions in front of 43,000 at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Wales, who had 14 points from the kicking of Leigh Halfpenny, were seeking just their second win over the Wallabies in Australia and a first since 1969 but will return home empty-handed.

Samoa 16 Scotland 17

Replacement Rob Harley scored a dramatic late try on his international debut to rescue Scotland from a shock defeat to Samoa.

With Scotland trailing 16-10 in the final game of their three-match southern hemisphere tour, incessant pressure finally told on the hosts' defence as Mike Blair sent the Glasgow Warriors flanker through a huge gap by the left-hand post.

Greig Laidlaw slotted the simple conversion to ensure a clean sweep for Andy Robinson's side, following previous wins over Australia and Fiji.