THE records and successes just keep on rolling for England under Eddie Jones,
They picked up their first victory over South Africa since 2006 today at a rain-soaked Twickenham, finally ending a wretched run of a dozen winless encounters against these opponents.
But, even missing a raft of injured regulars, it should have come as no surprise; Jones can do no wrong, this being the Australian’s 10th successive win since taking over from Stuart Lancaster.
It is 11 consecutive wins in total and, with Fiji up next Saturday, then Argentina and the Wallabies in successive weekends, most people expect classy England to march on and at least match their 2002-03 record of 14 successive victories.
Lock Joe Launchbury, one of those recalled due to those absences, won man-of-the-match but Ben Youngs must have come close following a virtuoso performance from the scrum-half who twice dummied through in the second period to create tries.
Courtney Lawes, also reinstated with second-rows Marlo Itoje and George Kruis injured, celebrated his 50th Test appearance with his first try for his country as England swept aside a dismal South African side who have now lost five of their last six games.
Jones’ side were 20-9 up at the break having survived some early pressure and then judiciously worked their way into the contest.
When Pat Lambie slotted a penalty and drop goal, it was the Springboks who took an initial 6-0 lead.
Indeed, there was some alarming holes in the hosts’ defence, too, illustrated when loosehead prop Tendai Mtawairira appeared straight through a ruck and sprinted 30m.
Later, fellow prop Vincent Koch would do the same from the back of a driving maul as England’s middle defence evaporated.
However, neither time did Jones’ side concede a try and nor did they throughout the first period.
They did score twice themselves, though, the first being a brilliant effort in the 11th minute to reply to Lambie’s kicks.
Courtney Lawes tipped down a line-out for Ben Youngs to find No8 Billy Vunipola who acted as a pivot before George Ford - ignoring both centres - found Marlande Yarde coming infield from his wing to create space, Mike Brown producing the final pass for recalled winger Jonny May to show his finishing prowess reaching the corner.
The execution of the sharp, timely passing was perfect, some feat given the conditions, and Owen Farrell converted from wide out as well.
Lambie missed a penalty when Yarde tackled an opponent in the air but, after Koch’s break, the fly-half did add one to put his side 9-7 ahead at the end of the first quarter.
Ford was off-cue with a drop-goal attempt but, with the alert Chris Robshaw nailing scrum-half Rudy Paige to force an error and giant lock Eden Etzebeth departing after a clash of heads with Billy Vunipola, it was the hosts who moved up the gears.
Farrell slotted a penalty as a Springboks scrum crumbled and then Lawes scored as the visitors made a hash of dealing with Mike Brown’s hopeful kick downfield.
There was a heavy suggestion that Brown himself, having hacked on the loose ball, may have nudged forward when trying to collect before Lawes arrived to score but the video official awarded in England’s favour.
Farrell improved again before handing over to Daly - making his 1st Tests start - whose longer reach saw him fire a penalty from around 50m out on the stroke of half-time.
It was Youngs who then took control in the second half, though, his first break seeing Ford scamper over in the 44th minute.
Springboks openside Pieter-Steph du Toit took the dummy to be left rooted.
However, to further his embarrassment, he was guilty of the same mistake later on when Youngs dummied through once more to supply Farrell with a try.
It summed up some of South Africa’s abject play and illustrated the depths of their problems currently.
Furthermore, Lambie sailed the restart out on the full following Ford’s score, Farrell adding another penalty soon after, and, though Lambie’s replacement Johan Goosen scored a breakaway try after a blatant forward pass from Francois Venter, there was no problems thereon in for England.
Even when debutant Ben Te’o was penalised for an illegal challenge on Goosen, Willie le Roux inexplicably kicked the ball dead when trying to find touch,
Granted, he atoned for that grave error when finishing off Goosen’s smart pass in the 79th minute, Ruan Cornbrink converting, but it was scant consolation.
This was very much England’s day.
England: Brown, Yarde, Daly, Farrell, May (Joseph 63); Ford (Te’o 71), Youngs (Care 68); M Vunipola (Marler 63), Hartley (George 57), Cole (Sinckler 72), Launchbury, Lawes, Robshaw, Wood (Hughes 54), B Vunipola (Attwood 71).
South Africa: le Roux; Combrinck, Venter, de Allende, Pietersen; Lambie (Goosen 54), Paige (de Klerk 63); Mtawariri (Kitshoff 53), Strauss (Mbonambi 71), Koch (Adriaanse 53), Etzebeth (Moster 40), de Jager, Alberts, du Toit, Whiteley .
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)