England vs South Africa LIVE: Latest rugby score and updates from 2021 Autumn internationals

‘Our pack isn’t weak’ – Jones vows depeleted front row can match SA power

England welcome South Africa to Twickenham in a mouthwatering rematch of the World Cup final two years on.

The Springboks battled past Eddie Jones’ side on the big stage and edged out the British and Irish Lions 2-1 this summer. They enter the match in fine form too, having surged past Scotland last week to lock up a 30-15 victory at Murrayfield.

The Boks poses what Richard Cockerill claims to be a daunting task: “Physically from a scrum, set-piece and line-out point of view, there isn’t a harder team to play against in the world at the moment.”

But this is a very different England side, packed with guile and invention, namely in the shape of 22-year-old Marcus Smith, which played out in the 32-15 win over Australia last weekend.

Jones has proven daring with his surprise selections and believes that unpredictability can unsettle the world champions: “The whole team is up for the fight. I’ve never seen a team as ready to play against South Africa. We know exactly how we want to play, we know exactly where we think there is a weakness with South Africa and we’ve just got to go out there and execute. And execute with a spirit of adventure, a spirit of taking the English game where it’s never been before. We know this South African team is the best in the world at the moment. So there’s a great opportunity for us to prove ourselves.”

Follow live updates, build-up, analysis and reaction from Twickenham in this colossal match-up following the conclusion of Scotland vs Japan:

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Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 15:03

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One to watch – Marcus Smith

Welcome to the Marcus Smith show. If there were times last week where it felt like England’s princely fly-half talent was still bedding in to a side still moulded in the image of their ten-cum-twelve, Owen Farrell’s absence means Smith will be primary ring-master for certain for a significant encounter with significant opposition.

Smith should relish a centre partnership somewhat resembling the one alongside which Smith has thrived at Harlequins, with a direct tone-setting 12 and a multi-faceted, classy 13.

Of course, the man most often at 13 for Harlequins outside Smith is on the wing for England today, but Joe Marchant is good friends with the fly-half and the pair will retain a certain chemistry even with Marchant out wide.

There is no understating the measure of the task at hand. This suffocating Springbok defence has caused many an attack to come a cropper, but has tendered to be challenged most by tens with a degree of creativity and the confidence to try things. Smith is short of neither, and his silken skills should cause South Africa issues, particularly if England are able to gain front foot ball.

We are expecting England to again be reasonably flexible with formations and structures in attack – what do Eddie Jones, attack coach Martin Gleeson and Smith have up their sleeves?

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 15:02

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One to watch – Kwagga Smith

Australia, by hook or more often than not by crook, managed to stall England by spoiling and slowing breakdown ball last week. Whiile South Africa will be keen to avoid being similarly pinged, if they are able to legally prevent England finding flow then they may just come out on top. Kwagga Smith will be a key part of that. He lends a very different skillset to the back row than the injured Pieter-Steph du Toit, shorter in stature but more dynamic in open space, but with Siya Kolisi, perhaps in career best form, whatever the World Rugby Awards do and do not say, and Duane Vermeulen there is plenty of ability over the ball in the back row trio.

There will be plenty of kicking in the contest but accuracy in phase play will be vital with both sides likely to attack as jackalers, so in both attack and defence the ruck-work of the forwards will be under the spotlight. Ireland’s Andrew Brace is this week’s whistle-carrier, if you were wondering, supported by compatriot Brian MacNeice in the TMO truck.

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 15:00

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One to watch – Jamie Blamire

Jamie Blamire has made something of a habit of romping for the Twickenham line in his nascent international career, but this will represent a much, much sterner test against perhaps the deepest, most feared front row unit in the rugby world. The Newcastle hooker has six international tries already but set-piece solidity will be the order of the day if England are to counter South Africa’s forward might. Blamire, second-choice at club level, has looked a little shaky with his darts and has developing to do as a scrummager, too.

This will be a significant challenge for Blamire and a similarly inexperienced Bevan Rodd alongside him. Both Eddie Jones and Richard Cockerill, who know a thing or two about front row confrontation, were confident that they would rise to the challenge, but South Africa may see a potential weakpoint. Having so unsettled England with their set-piece dominance during the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, the Springboks will be out to do so again, with six front-rowers ready to make an impact with trademark might.

England do have Joe Marler on the bench to counter the “Bomb Squad”, out of isolation on Thursday night shorn of his tastebuds after contracting Covid-19, and readied for this contest with sprints in a disused chicken run and a number of bottles of a South African pinotage/malbec blend.

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 15:00

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One to watch – Cobus Reinach

There has been plenty of, possibly undue, focus on how South Africa have gone about assembling an outstanding Test match rugby side and the tactics favoured by the Springboks, but this is a magnificently talented squad. Iti s testament to their depth that even with Faf de Klerk an autumnal absentee they can call upon a player with the ability of Cobus Reinach.

Sharp as a knife off a whetstone, Reinach may not offer the same accuracy with the boot, defensive menace or close-to-the-ruck wind-up-ery of de Klerk, but he’s a sniping threat with a habit of plucking intercepts. He and Handre Pollard will have plenty of kicking to do, of course, but if South Africa are invited into an up-tempo contest then Reinach can certainly quickstep with the best of them.

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 14:57

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Team News – South Africa

South Africa make three changes to the side that beat Scotland a week ago. Cobus Reinach unites with club colleague Handre Pollard in the halves with Faf de Klerk a longer term absentee, while converted centre Jesse Kriel continues to cover for a similarly stricken Cheslin Kolbe.

Jacques Nienaber has this week picked Lood de Jäger ahead of Franco Moster to form an almost comically huge second row connection with the outstanding Eben Etzebeth. Kwagga Smith and Siya Kolisi’s partnership on the flanks has begun to coalesce nicely.

Beware, too, the Bomb Squad, this week consisting of five forwards and three backs but hardly short of explosive power. Malcolm Marx might be the best hooker in the world, while Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch are hardly shrinking violets. Then there is Frans Steyn, hardly short of weight and still booming over long-distance penalties 15 years after his Test debut.

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 14:51

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Team News – England

With Jamie George and Owen Farrell out until the new year at least with injuries and Ellis Genge still in isolation, England are short of several key individuals. Bevan Rodd retains his starting place at loose head while there is a start for Jamie Blamire in George’s stead, backed up by Leicester hooker Nic Dolly, who was playing Championship rugby in the spring.

The back five in the pack remains intact for a third week running but there is a reshuffle behind them. After being named on the wing but lining up everywhere but against Australia, Manu Tuilagi is back in the centres, outside Marcus Smith and inside Henry Slade in what appears a balance midfield.

Joe Marchant is this week’s slightly surprise pick on the right wing, with England keen on his ability under the high ball and defensive decision-making. There is also the Harlequins connection with Smith, of course.

A 6-2 bench split means places in the 23 again for Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds, who impressed off the pine a week ago.

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 14:50

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On to England vs South Africa…

That concludes our live coverage of Scotland’s win over Japan, but we’ll have plenty of reaction and analysis over the next couple of days.

On to today’s second marquee matchup, and boy is it a big’un – for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final it is England against South Africa with plenty of scores to be settled…

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 14:49

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Player of the Match Chris Harris speaks to Amazon Prime Video

“It’s been quality for us. I don’t think we played our best last week and today wasn’t our best either but we did enough. Very mixed emotions,” says Chris Harris. “We did some really good stuff but we let Japan into the game – they were brilliant. They kept chipping away. But we got the win. Three wins from four is awesome.”

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 14:47

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Scotland 29-20 Japan

Victory for Scotland, who were below their best against a Japan side with plenty of adventure but just short of a degree of execution at times. That’s by no means a bad result for either side – Japan haven’t played too much rugby since the World Cup and they showed some very, very nice things in possession, while Scotland continue to build a winning habit despite a setback against South Africa last weekend.

Harry Latham-Coyle20 November 2021 14:46

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