England primed for revenge against South Africa
Far from being disheartened by England’s defeat against South Africa, Stuart Lancaster has no doubt his side can square the best-of-three series in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Red Rose were outmuscled 22-17 by an undercooked Springboks outfit in the opening game of much-anticipated clash in Durban on Saturday.
That contest was seen as Lancaster and Co’s best chance to steal a game off the two-time world champions considering the hosts’ lack of preparation time and the move up to altitude this week.
However, despite the result, the coach saw more than enough from his troops to suggest a first win in the ‘Rainbow Nation’ since 2000 could be on the cards at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“The boys are certainly very positive and the good thing is we have already seen one or two areas we can fix up,” Lancaster said. “The players are talking about it already and that is a good sign. They are not downcast and they are feeling there is no chance of turning up next week and not winning.
“If anything, this will be their motivation to right the wrongs we did in this game.” While England were competitive in the first half, the Boks upped the tempo after the break and relentless pressure eventually told as Morne Steyn and new captain Jean de Villiers broke through for tries before Ben Foden grabbed a late consolation.
But Lancaster has already pinpointed the area where he thinks they can bridge the gap, saying: “Once they were across the gainline, irrespective of how we slowed the contact down or got around the corner, eventually the hard-running South African forwards made a dent into us.
“We need to work defensively and make sure we win that gainline battle. That is crucial for all sides.” Meanwhile, England are hopeful midfielder Brad Barritt will be fit for the second Test despite undergoing minor eye surgery. The Saracens star was forced from the field after 53 minutes in Durban with heavy swelling to his eye.
Flying fullback Mike Brown is also racing the clock after injuring his thumb while attempting to stop de Villiers from scoring.