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South Africa v England – third Test preview

22 June 2012

  • Sides head to Port Elizabeth for series finale
  • Stuart Lancaster "desperate" to avoid whitewash
Pierre Spies on the charge

Photo: Getty Images

The series may be out of reach for England, but there remains plenty of pride to play for at Port Elizabeth as Stuart Lancaster’s charges aim to avoid a whitewash and build momentum towards next season.

Scars from a gruelling Ellis Park defeat are evident in the tourists’ selection, with skipper Chris Robshaw and scrum half Ben Youngs two high-profile casualties from a 36-27 loss. Even so, their replacements – James Haskell and Danny Care – do not lack for Test match experience at all. Hope certainly remains.

South Africa, who screamed out of the blocks in Johannesburg last weekend, have only made three enforced changes to their starting line-up, demonstrating their desire to seize this ‘dead-rubber’ by the scruff of the neck with another authoritative showing.

When? Saturday, June 16
Ellis Park, Johannesburg
5pm local time, 4pm BST

How to keep up with the action

  • Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3.30pm
  • Regular updates on BBC Five Live 
  • Live text commentary on the free RFU iPhone app (search iTunes for Official RFU)
  • Live score updates from @Official_RFU on Twitter
  • Match report and post-match interviews on


South Africa

15. Gio Aplon, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jean de Villiers (c), 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard; 1. Tendai Mtawarira, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Juandré Kruger, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 7. Jacques Potgieter, 8. Pierre Spies

Replacements: 16. Adriann Strauss, 17. Werner Kruger, 18. Flip Van Der Merwe, 19. Ryan Kankowski, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Bjorn Basson


15. Alex Goode, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Ben Foden, 10. Toby Flood, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Dylan Hartley(c), 3. Dan Cole, 4. Tom Palmer, 5. Geoff Parling, 6. Tom Johnson, 7. James Haskell, 8. Thomas Waldrom

Replacements: 16. Lee Mears, 17. Paul Doran Jones, 18. Mouritz Botha, 19. Phil Dowson, 20. Lee Dickson, 21. Owen Farrell, 22. Brad Barritt

Key clashes

The scrum half battle: Francois Hougaard has been an attacking fulcrum for the Springboks so far this series. His fizzing service has kept his tank-like forwards on the front-foot and advancing over the gain-line on numerous occasions. There have been tenacious snipes too, one of which brought the decisive third try in Johhanesburg. The 24 year-old is right at the top of his game.

Danny Care comes back into the Test fold and will be bursting to take advantage of Youngs’ absence by reminding onlookers of his capabilities. The Premiership-winning Harelquin hasn’t been in the number nine shirt for almost a year but won’t be off the pace. A fascinating half-back tussle awaits.

Dylan Hartley prepares to throw in during an England training session

Photo: Getty Images

Fronting up: England’s needless early-engagements at Durban aside, neither front row has really gained scrum ascendancy over the past fortnight. In the loose though, Bismarck du Plessis has been a behemoth. His score last Saturday, carrying Toby Flood and Jonathan Joseph over the whitewash on his back, was a neat metaphor for the series as a whole.

Handed the captaincy following a tour-ending thumb injury to Chris Robshaw, Dylan Hartley will be eager to match his opposite number with a huge contribution, first by the hitting his men in the lineout and then with some burly ball-carries.


At under 80 kilograms, Gio Aplon will be the lightest man on the field by a sizeable margin. However, what the Stormers fullback lacks in bulk, he more than makes up for in pace and is sure to be a menace if England’s tactical kicking goes astray. A genuine pocket rocket, Aplon wins his 17th cap.

After a globetrotting stint shared between the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan and New Zealand’s Highlanders Super 15 franchise, James Haskell is brought back to the visitors’ openside flank. One of few member’s of England’s World Cup squad to emerge with his on-field credentials enhanced, the soon-to-be London Wasp can lay down a significant marker for November's QBE Internationals.

Quotes from the camps

Heyneke Meyer (South Africa head coach): “I know South Africa needs a Springbok team that does well. It is more the pressure you put on yourself and I think it is more a pressure of excellence and high standards.

“We’ve got a lot of things we want to improve on, but the main focus is to win this game.

Stuart Lancaster (England head coach): “I don't think there is such a thing as a dead rubber in international rugby. It is about winning the next game.

“We are desperate to go out there, get the win and finish the season on a high.”