Poms by 15 – and England to break their seven Test losing sequence.
Jake White has picked a better team than played Ireland in Dublin. The combinations among the backs are better, but the pack still lacks balance, especially among the loose-forwards. Where’s the open-sider?
England have also picked a better team. The back three is dangerous, flyhalf Charlie Hodgson is unlikely to play three shockers and the telly tubby is no longer at No 9.
Martin Corry is restored to his preferred loose-forward position, the England tight five is more effective than South Africa’s mix and match mob and there is greater desperation among the English.
Both teams lack confidence, but England have the mental edge on South Africa, a bit like South Africa tends to have against the All Blacks in South Africa. You can’t explain it but it is there.
The Boks have not won at Twickenham since 1997 and you have to question whether the belief is there to change that.
The Boks will play a more conservative game with Butch James at flyhalf, but the back division will only be in the game if the pack can mix it with the hosts. It is here where I believe the Boks will struggle. They have a pedestrian second row and a back row that comes armed with only one type of punch.
They don’t ruck particulary well and the don’t counter ruck at all. It is at the breakdown where England will have the edge.
It is a match that could get nasty, given the pre-match talk that Butch James will cut Hodgson in half. But don’t forget that the last time a Bok team made such boasts James was at inside centre and England won 53-3.
England aren’t good enough at this juncture to put away a second-rate Bok team by too much, but they’re still good enough to win with something to spare.
Two years ago Hodgson played his best game against the Boks. He’ll do the same again, kick loads of penalties and knock over the odd conversion.
A week ago we didn’t have a clue how this Bok team would shape. We had to rely on what team sources were telling us, which was that the Boks would not lose to Ireland.
This week there’s the Dublin debacle for a barometer. And Bok teams have never turned around those kind of shockers mid-tour.
England 25 Boks 10
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