Australia v England LIVE rugby: Result and reaction as England keep series alive with win

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Owen Farrell kicked 20 points as England took an imposing early lead and held off a spirited Australia fightback to level the three-match series at 1-1 with a 25-17 victory in Brisbane on Saturday.

An early Billy Vunipola try and four penalties had England 19-0 ahead in the 32nd minute and two more three-pointers from Farrell in the second half proved enough for victory.

Australia, 30-28 winners in the series opener last week, scored tries through prop Taniela Tupou and centre Samu Kerevi either side of halftime but were unable to extend their 10-match winning streak at Lang Park.

The third and deciding test takes place at Sydney Cricket Ground next Saturday.

Follow the reaction with our live blog:

Australia vs England

  • England keep the series alive with victory in Brisbane

  • Billy Vunipola’s early try and Owen Farrell’s boot take England to glory

  • FULL-TIME! Australia 17-25 England

  • 67’ - PENALTY! Farrell moves England beyond a score in front (17-25)

  • 54’ - SIN-BIN! Smith yellow carded and Wallabies close gap (17-22)

  • 49’ - TRY! Kerevi scores on the overlap to narrow the gap (14-22)

  • 38’ - TRY! Tupou drives over to get Australia on the board (7-19)

  • 32’ - PENALTY! Fourth Farrell penalty of the half extends England’s advantage (0-19)

  • 5’ - TRY! Vunipola is mauled over the line for the opening try (0-7)

H/T: South Africa 3-3 Wales

17:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not a great deal to report from that half. South Africa are clearly on top and playing in the right areas but both sides are making errors rather too regularly, which has prevented this encounter from developing any sort of flow or fizz. The attacks have been clunky, the defences tight, and each kicker has missed from the tee - not the best first 40 minutes, all told.

HALF TIME! SOUTH AFRICA 3-3 WALES

16:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 40 minutes

16:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Evan Roos thinks he is off on a gallop to the line as he gathers yet another dropped ball, but there are South African hands involved in it hitting the deck. Roos smiles as he trots back - knock-on South Africa, Welsh scrum.

Wales win a penalty at the scrum, but Dan Biggar has seen quite enough of a rather unattractive half of rugby. Tapped and chipped into the first row - off down the tunnel for the half-time oranges.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 39 minutes

16:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another chance to attack for South Africa; another rather atypical error. Wales are managing to stymie early in the phases and this much-changed Springboks side is appearing to lose shape thereafter. It is Andre Esterhuizen this time fumbling forward.

Still it remains 3-3 with the halftime hooter soon to sound.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 37 minutes

16:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The untidiness from both sides continue. The ball breaks from the back of a Welsh ruck after good work from Warrick Gelant, and Joseph Dweba sets off on a rampage up the right, boshing back Dan Biggar who opted to go high.

Dweba places back but finds support lacking, allowing BIggar to nip around the corner and snatch it from the hooker’s outstretched arms. Biggar is driven into touch.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 35 minutes

16:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s better from Wales! The running game hasn’t got going so it is to the boot that Dan Biggar goes, lifting a lovely crossfield kick that Louis Rees-Zammit tidily flicks back infield to an onrushing Liam Willliams.

South Africa react swiftly to get across to Williams, who is again forced to kick, ball once more brushing the white line on the hop.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 34 minutes

16:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales play to the open spaces on the left, but South Africa haven’t really been troubled defensively so far. Liam Williams is forced to kick, and it skips into touch.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 33 minutes

16:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Better mauling from Wales, advancing beyond the halfway line. Kieran Hardy puts too much mustard on his box kick, allowing Aphelele Fassi to claim a mark without a Welsh body troubling him.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 31 minutes

16:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Tommy Reffell is so proficient over the ball. All of Wales’ back-rowers have shown well in this first half-hour, and Reffell and Taulupe Faletau coombine strongly, a double-hit ending Marcell Coetzee’s forward plough with little pasture tilled, and Reffell sharply to his feet to contest for the ball. Another holding on penalty awarded Wales’ way.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 30 minutes

16:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But still South Africa cannot seize this contest despite their territorial advantage! Another dominant South African scrum does not draw a penalty, and Evan Roos is caught by Kieran Hardy, preventing him making a telling bust around the corner. Roos’ place back on his side hits a boot and spills across the floor, where Welsh hands are fastest to it. Dan Biggar kicks away, Wales survive again.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 29 minutes

16:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And that makes Gelant’s prod all the better - Wales try to maul to create space for a clearance, but South African limbs lock around the ball, and it ain’t coming out. Scrum, Springbok feed.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 27 minutes

16:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa get their lineout right now, 40 metres or so back from that initial five-metre throw. Jesse Kriel is just about handled trying to get to the outside of the Welsh defensive line on the left.

To the right, and that’s clever from Warrick Gelant, who does have a good short kicking game - spotting Wales numbered up but short of a man in behind, he grubbers for territory. Over the touchline it trickles five metres out.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 26 minutes

16:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another free-kick against South Africa at the scrum, this time for an early shove. Wales clear their lines.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 24 minutes

16:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But Joseph Dweba’s throw is not straight! It can be a problem for the hooker, who is bound for the Stormers this summer after a productive two seasons in Bordeaux. It appears he went to throw but was forced to delay by a slow lift of Pieter-Steph du Toit - and in Dweba’s attempt to drive the throw to the flanker, he pushed it off line.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 23 minutes

16:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Purposeful stuff from South Africa, though Wales handle first Evan Roos and then Pieter-Steph du Toit effectively. Marcell Coetzee, the other member of a beefy back row, makes a bit of a dent, and the Welsh defensive line is then ruled to be offside.

Handre Pollard explores a gap, but holds on at the next ruck. Back for the penalty.

That’s three or four offside penalties against Wales now inside their own 22. Referee Angus Gardner warns Dan Biggar of the need for improvement as Handre Pollard opts for...

The corner!

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 22 minutes

16:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Trevor Nyakane has to cram his right foot back into his boot, so there is a pause before the Welsh lineout, taking yet more energy out of a pretty slow game.

And Ryan Elias’ dart hits the wrong double. Not straight, South Africa scrum.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 22 minutes

16:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And that’s not the smartest attacking play from South Africa, getting a nudge on at the scrum to open up a big blindside, but then failing to utilise it. Andre Esterhuizen’s looping miss pass does little for Aphelele Fassi’s prospects of remaining in the field of play. Fassi cannot avoid the embrace of the touchline, grappling as he is with two drifting Welsh defenders.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 21 minutes

16:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Things have been a little sloppy since that lively opening salvo. Two Welsh carriers over-run Kieran Hardy, forcing the scrum-half to throw a forward pass.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 20 minutes

16:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Both sides engage in a spell of kick tennis, Warrick Gelant’s attempt to end it with an adventure across the field by a useful grasp of the shirt from Dan Lydiate.

Back to the air, Liam Williams collecting well in the air. Wales’ Kieran Hardy box-kicks up the left, and Handre Pollard knocks into touch.

Hang on, we are checking something - TMO Brett Cronan has called down to look at a tackle from Ryan Elias. No contact to the head, and a clear wrap - on we will go with no sanction.

Missed penalty! South Africa 3-3 Wales, 18 minutes

16:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

He cannot. This is even more cleanly struck than Biggar’s but the sat nav is set similarly incorrectly - off-line, again to the right. Three apiece it remains.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 17 minutes

16:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Yes, plenty of strapping on Adams’ knee, which isn’t ideal. He may have to play more than an hour here.

Wales penalised at the scrum. Can Handre Pollard succeed from long range where Dan Biggar failed?

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 16 minutes

16:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A free-kick to Wales at the scrum with hooker Joseph Dweba not getting the placement of his ‘brake foot’ right. Kieran Hardy taps and sends to his outside backs, but South Africa are up quickly and shut down any thoughts of pretty patterns in open space.

Strong defence from the Springboks. Handre Pollard and Jaden Hendrikse fill the 13 channel well as a looping Dan Biggar tries to arc around the outside, Biggar fumbling and given a stiff tickling of the ribs by Andre Esterhuizen for his trouble as he knocks on.

And Alex Cuthbert is trudging off! A blow for Wales with the wing unable to continue after taking a bang. Josh Adams is on - Wales restored to the 15 men who started the opening encounter of the series, though the suggestion has been that Adams is not fully fit.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 14 minutes

16:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Warrick Gelant is having some difficulties in the air. Alex Cuthbert again gets a disruptive arm in as Gelant tries to gather the latest ball tumbling from the heavens, forcing a knock-on.

Missed penalty! South Africa 3-3 Wales, 13 minutes

16:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Hmm. Dan Biggar had the distance, but not the direction - it sails by, to the right of the posts. That’s a reasonably poor miss by his standards.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 11 minutes

16:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Both sides are weighting their contestable kicks well, Wales winning an aerial challenge on this occasion.

Joseph Dweba hurries up and makes a tackle on a Welsh player with empty hands. The hooker is penalised, and Dan Biggar will look to push Wales back in front from just short of halfway.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 9 minutes

16:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales return with a kick of their own and then Warrick Gelant is off on another merry scamper, looking full of threat as he wanders to the left. His forward stab is deflected into touch by a Welsh boot.

One can South Africa work from the lineout? Joseph Dweba collects at the back of the maul and pops for Andre Esterhuizen, but that is outstanding from Tommy Reffell! The Welsh openside combines with a teammate to quell the mighty centre’s charge and then bounces to his feet to jackal superbly and win the penalty.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 8 minutes

16:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another ruck error from Wales, granting South Africa the ball after an initial charge up the left from Alex Cuthbert.

Liam Williams puts Jesse Kriel on his backside with a firm-but-fair dump tackle, but South Africa look calmer in possession than a week ago.

That’s another good involvement from Jaden Hendrikse, kicking first to compete, allowing a teammate to win the ball back, and then for territory, pushing a kick beyond the Welsh backfield.

South Africa 3-3 Wales, 7 minutes

16:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The Toyto Stadium surface does not appear in ideal nick, particularly around the halfway line, rutted, discoloured and generally look a little worse for wear.

South Africa turn over Welsh possession with a typically physical counter-ruck, but the backs’ handling is off the mark on this occassion, and the ball bounces into touch.

PENALTY! SOUTH AFRICA 3-3 Wales (Handre Pollard penalty, 6 minutes)

16:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A simple starter for Handre Pollard, though, and we are back to all-square after a jaunty introduction.

South Africa 0-3 Wales, 4 minutes

16:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Advantage to South Africa and they play at pace superbly! Swept out through the hands to the right, Warrick Gelant scorching an outside path and feeding Kurt-Lee Arendse. He combines with debutant Evan Roos five metres out.

Another advantage, and another, each for an offside Welsh player, both in the shadow of the posts. Another forward carry...knocked on!

South Africa 0-3 Wales, 3 minutes

16:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another ball breaks Wales’ way, but finally some joy for South Africa, Jaden Hendrikse over the ball sharply and the little scrum-half surviving the cleanout to earn a holding on penalty.

South Africa 0-3 Wales, 2 minutes

16:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales do rather better with their restart drill, taking down and clearing through Kieran Hardy’s right boot...

And a thundering Alex Cuthbert claims Hardy’s hoist!

PENALTY! South Africa 0-3 WALES (Dan Biggar penalty, 2 minutes)

16:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not even 90 seconds on the clock, and the second strike of Dan Biggar’s boot puts Wales three points in front.

South Africa 0-0 Wales, 1 minute

16:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And a penalty to Wales right away! Not the finest return to international rugby for Pieter-Steph du Toit, sealing off at the first ruck of the game after Warrick Gelant had claimed the kick-off.

KICK OFF!

16:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa against Wales has begun!

Match Officials

16:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

After plenty of chatter about the involvement of the officials in the first Test, referee Angus Gardner might hope for a quieter afternoon. Matthew Carley and Andrea Piardi are his assistants; Brett Cronan the TMO.

Dan Biggar to get things underway...

National anthem of South Africa

16:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Fireworks and flames to punctuate the closing notes of the South African national anthem, led by Caroline Grace. An excellent crowd in. This could be a lot of fun.

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

16:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wayne Pivac and the Welsh coaching staff are high up in the rafters at Toyota Stadium, joined in the top tier by a number of Welsh supporters, flags fluttering as they add accompaniement to their national anthem, which sounds rather better than it did last week.

South Africa vs Wales

16:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Out come Wales first, led by Dan Biggar, with Alun Wyn Jones enjoying the opportuntity to stride out a little slower at the rear of the Welsh 23. They gather in an extend huddle.

Two tens skippering this evening, of course - Handre Pollard glares towards the touchline as he and his teammates assemble themselves for the anthem. Winner of the Top 14 with Montpellier, Pollard’s time in camp has been reasonably brief, but he should steady the Springboks after a tough 40 minutes for Elton Jantjies last weekend.

South Africa vs Wales

15:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The sun is setting on Toyota Stadium, with hardly an empty seat in the place. South Africa’s players have taken to calling Bloemfontein “the graveyard”, given how tough the task is for visiting players in the Free State.

“It’s such a tough place and the people are passionate,” said Pollard.

“When the Springboks come here, it’s a different feeling and the people are so hungry for rugby and supporters want to get us in town.

“It’s an unbelievably special atmosphere, we are going to tap into that and try and channel that emotion in the right direction.

“Bloemfontein is a special place, we want to keep it that way and make it a tough place for others to come here.”

Can Wales again frustrate?

15:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There has been little suggestion that Wales will alter massively with a gameplan that worked effectively last week. Again, standing up to the physical challenge that South Africa pose will be key, but the Springboks were certainly rattled by Dan Biggar and his side last weekend. Wales might like to be create slightly more in attack - Esterhuizen, Handre Pollard and Jesse Kriel, who all play outside of South Africa, will have had limited prep time in combination, so there might just be spaces for Nick Tompkins and George North to exploit.

South Africa’s second-string should pose problems

15:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Adam Jones, the former Wales prop, has described South Africa’s selection as a “power play”, and certainly a Springboks win today would be a significant flexing of their depth. Jones is rather familiar with Andre Esterhuizen from coaching the centre at Harlequins, and rightly points out that any “B team” that can include a player of his ability will provide some threat.

His return to the Springboks midfield will be fascinating, having been stuck behind the outstanding partnership of Damian De Allende and Lukhanyo Am even after a couple of seasons tearing up great trees in southwest London. Evan Roos’ debut, too, should be lots of fun, as the dynamic, destructive number eight eyes a permanent place at the back of the South African scrum, while I’m looking forward to seeing a versatile, dynamic back three go.

Wayne Pivac has his say

15:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

More words, this time coming from Wayne Pivac, looking toasty in suit and red tie on a balmy Bloemfontein day.

“We certainly got a lot of confidence out of that first half in particular,” Pivac says to Sky Sports of his side’s performance last week. “We had a lot of control in that first 40 minutes, so we are going to try and replicate that this week.

“There’s still some big names in that [South Africa] side. There are players playing for positions in World Cups and next week. Any Springboks team you have to respect.”

South Africa fire back

15:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Unsurprisingly, the comments of Edwards and others did not go down well in South Africa. Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick believes that the labelling of this changed side as a “B team” was a misconstrual.

“In all honesty, calling this team a B team is disrespecting the Springboks emblem,” added Stick.

“They talk about our team as if it’s a ‘B team’. We don’t have a B team.

“Some of those players played in the URC final and semi-finals. I don’t want to go to the Welsh side and say they have no teams in the play-offs and they can judge and say these guys are a B team.

“These are proper players that have earned their stripes and deserve their opportunity.

“If they want to say it’s a ‘B team’ they must come to speak with us after the game and the result will speak to that.

“If you have 42 players in our squad then they have all earned their stripes playing well for their clubs.

“Somewhere as coaches we have to give them opportunities and now we are in a good position.

“Our first goal is always to win and we are going to do everything in our power after the 80th minute to make sure that we are the team that win (on Saturday).

“When you are wearing a Springbok jersey you are not only representing yourself and your family, you are representing 58m South Africans.”

Disrespectful?

15:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, a bit more on that South African selection. An early naming of the 23 by Jacques Nienaber allowed plenty of debate about the merits of changing so much of a 23 from first to second Test, a decision that the great Sir Gareth Edwards took umbrage with - however talented the Springboks coming in.

“If there had been five or six changes, you would maybe have raised an eyebrow. But 14 changes? It’s overwhelming,” said the former Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half.

“I don’t think it shows respect for Wales and, looking logically, there is only one way to view it and that’s to give them a good tonking, as they say.

“I suppose the only way they [South Africa] can justify it is if they win. I think it shows a little bit of disrespect.

“It doesn’t matter that it’s Wales. In these days, everyone is building towards World Cups so they have a different outlook.

“Yes, make changes but not that many. I’m a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing Wales take on these guys again.”

Team News – Wales

15:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

In contrast to their opponents, Wales stick, Wayne Pivac making a single change to his starting side. It is, sort of, enforced, with some concerns that Josh Adams may not be at full sharpness necessitating the introduction of Alex Cuthbert to the starting side.

Tomas Francis has been sent home after his rather worrying head injury last week, so in comes Sam Wainwright, the Saracens tighthead who awaits a first cap.

Wales XV: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Alex Cuthbert; Dan Biggar, Kieran Hardy; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dillon Lewis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Dan Lydiate, Tommy Reffell, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Dewi Lake, Wyn Jones, Sam Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Josh Adams.

Jacques Nienaber is asked by Sky Sports about that selection

15:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“I’m not a gambling man. We’ve got a plan from the start of the series with the 42 players we selected, and there is no better opportunity to give them a run. Wales are fighting to get back in the series and we are fighting to win the series.

“It will be nice to see Handre Pollard. He is the guy who has been with us for the least amount of time, so it will be interesting to see how goes.”

Team News - South Africa

15:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

All change, please, all change. Only Eben Etzebeth missed the announcement from the conductor, with Jacques Nienaber sticking to a pre-series strategy to look at the depth of his squad in the Second Test, making 14 (fourteen) changes.

Enter, then, an exceptionally strong second string, headlined by the now available Pieter-Steph du Toit and Handre Pollard, who takes the captaincy, the returning Andre Esterhuizen and with a healthy smattering of new faces. Two debutants start: Evan Roos and Kurt-Lee Arendse are contrasting players, but performed equally impressively in the URC this year.

There are four more potential new-cappers on the bench (Ntuthuko Mchunu, Ruan Nortje, Deon Fourie and Grant Williams), which also includes last week’s match winner.

South Africa XV: Warrick Gelant; Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi; Handre Pollard (capt), Jaden Hendrikse; Thomas du Toit, Joseph Dweba, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Marvin Orie, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Evan Roos.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Vincent Koch, Ruan Nortje, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie, Grant Williams, Damian Willemse.

South Africa vs Wales

15:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Hello, hello. Three from three for the Six Nations sides already in action on another super Saturday of rugby, France, Ireland and England all winners in an action-packed early slate.

Over to Bloemfontein, one of South Africa’s most passionate rugby cities, where Wales bid to square their own series having come so close to a first ever victory over the Springboks in South Africa last weekend.

Hooker Dewi Lake confident Wales can bounce back against South Africa

15:33 , Luke Baker

Dewi Lake has underlined Wales’ fierce belief that they can overturn a Test series deficit and make history in South Africa.

Hooker Lake’s late try hauled Wales level in the first Test as they chased a first victory over the Springboks in South Africa at the 11th attempt but skipper Dan Biggar missed the conversion, before Springboks full-back Damian Willemse booted a match-winning penalty with the game’s final kick.

A gripping contest proved far closer than many had predicted, with Wales having arrived on tour following a Six Nations home defeat against Italy three months ago.

“We will have the bit between our teeth going into the next Test, and we will back ourselves to do it,” Lake told the Welsh Rugby Union official website.

“We have still got a chance to create history. We are only one down, and can still win it 2-1. It is not a case of it’s done for us and we are out of it.”

Hooker Dewi Lake confident Wales can bounce back against South Africa

South Africa focusing on better kicking game ahead of Wales second Test

15:29 , Luke Baker

South Africa assistant coach Deon Davids says that the Springboks’ kicking game is a targeted area for improvement against Wales next Saturday.

The world champions won a thrilling first Test 32-29 in Pretoria, but only after Damian Willemse landed a penalty with the game’s final kick.

It preserved the Springboks’ unbeaten record against Wales on home soil, and the teams are now preparing to meet again in Bloemfontein.

“Luckily, everyone has recovered and are fit at this stage. We are ready to go,” Davids told www.sarugby.co.za. “We expected a tough battle against Wales, and as we said the whole of last week, we certainly never underestimated them.

“They lifted to the challenge and they forced us into a slow start. They also managed to stop our momentum in the first half. Test rugby is about playing in the right areas of the field, and having a good kicking game is part of that to get out of your own half.”

South Africa focusing on better kicking game ahead of Wales second Test

South Africa vs Wales talking points

15:24 , Luke Baker

Sam Wainwright closing in on Test debut

Saracens prop Sam Wainwright would probably have rubbed his eyes in disbelief if he had been told only a month ago that a Wales debut beckoned against South Africa.

The 24-year-old, who was born in North Wales and started playing at Rhyl Rugby Club, gained an unexpected call-up when Leon Brown was ruled out of Wales’ tour squad through injury.

And after Tomas Francis suffered concussion during the first Test – he was then stood down by Wales’ medical team and has flown home – Wainwright gained a place on the bench for an appointment with the Springboks. He can expect to join the action at some point this weekend as Wales aim to level the series.

South Africa vs Wales talking points

15:19 , Luke Baker

Fly-halves are masters of their craft

Wales fly-half Biggar and his opposite number Handre Pollard might not earn the same rave reviews as perceived entertainer 10s like Beauden Barrett, Romain Ntamack or Finn Russell, but their standing in the world game is unquestioned.

Both players have had immense careers for their countries, with Biggar winning 101 caps and now captaining Wales, while Pollard guided South Africa to World Cup glory at England’s expense in 2019.

Between them, they have played 164 Tests and scored almost 1200 international points, and on Saturday they go into action as rival skippers. Whichever team triumphs in Bloemfontein, expect Biggar or Pollard to have had a major say.

South Africa vs Wales talking points

15:15 , Luke Baker

Wales must improve their discipline

Wales were left kicking themselves at Loftus Versfeld, missing a golden chance to beat South Africa for the first time on home soil after leading 18-3 at half-time.

Ultimately, they were let down by poor discipline, having four players sin-binned by Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli and conceding 15 penalties to the Springboks’ seven.

Wales must remain on the right side of Australian official Angus Gardner in Bloemfontein, otherwise it could prove another frustrating afternoon. Pivac readily acknowledges it is an area that requires significant improvement during what should be another high-octane occasion.

South Africa vs Wales talking points

15:11 , Luke Baker

A big day for Alex Cuthbert

There were many who thought that Cuthbert’s Wales career was probably over when he joined Exeter in 2018 and therefore ruled himself out of international contention because he did not meet the Welsh Rugby Union’s 60-cap selection eligibility for players plying their trade outside Wales.

But after moving to the Ospreys last summer, he attracted Pivac’s attention and took his chance superbly, shining in the Six Nations and now being preferred to Josh Adams – 2019 World Cup top try-scorer – against South Africa.

He wins his 52nd cap and needs one try to enter Wales men’s all-time top 10 list that features players like Shane Williams, George North, Ieuan Evans and Gerald Davies, which underlines Cuthbert’s quality.

South Africa vs Wales talking points

15:07 , Luke Baker

Springboks selection has divided opinion

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber put the cat among the pigeons when he announced his team for Bloemfontein. Only lock Eben Etzebeth remains in Nienaber’s starting line-up from last Saturday, with his decision to make 14 changes being criticised as disrespectful by Wales great Sir Gareth Edwards.

Wales boss Wayne Pivac and captain Dan Biggar do not share Edwards’ view, with Biggar stating: “South Africa can pick who they want, and they are going to be strong whoever they put out”.

Nienaber’s logic revolves around balancing giving young players an opportunity with winning as he builds towards next year’s World Cup defence, but Wales must seize the moment and pounce.

Sir Gareth Edwards urges Wales to give much-changed Springboks ‘good tonking’

15:02 , Luke Baker

Sir Gareth Edwards believes Wales have been disrespected by world champions South Africa over the Springboks’ second Test team selection.

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has made 14 changes from the line-up that edged past Wales 32-29 in a thrilling series opener decided by Damian Willemse’s penalty with the game’s final kick.

He has named two uncapped players in the starting XV – wing Kurt-Lee Arendse and No 8 Evan Roos – and four more among the replacements.

Only lock Eben Etzebeth remains from Pretoria, with Nienaber stating that he “needed to strike a balance between giving our talented young players an opportunity to show what they can do at international level, and winning”.

Nienaber’s line-up contains a total of 393 caps, but 321 of those Test appearances are shared by just five players in Etzebeth, fly-half Handre Pollard, centre Jesse Kriel, prop Trevor Nyakane and flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Such an approach has cut little ice with Wales great Edwards, who also feels the clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday has been partly devalued.

“The big disappointment for me was to learn South Africa are going to change virtually their whole team,” Edwards said.

“They have got every right to prepare for the World Cup, but I would really like to know what their logic is in changing so many. I suppose the only way they can justify it is if they win. I think it shows a little bit of disrespect.

“If there had been five or six changes, you would maybe have raised an eyebrow. But 14 changes, it’s overwhelming.

“I don’t think it shows respect for Wales and, looking logically, there is only one way (for Wales) to view it and that’s to give them a good ‘tonking’, as they say.”

PA

Wales require 10-15 per cent improvement for result in South Africa, says Dan Biggar

14:56 , Luke Baker

Dan Biggar says Wales require a “10-15 per cent” improvement in their quest for a Test series-levelling victory over South Africa.

And Wales captain Biggar also poured cold water on Sir Gareth Edwards’ suggestion that the Springboks have disrespected the tourists with their second Test team selection.

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has made 14 changes from the line-up that edged past Wales 32-29 in a thrilling series opener last weekend, with six uncapped players featuring in his match-day 23.

Nienaber’s line-up contains a total of 393 caps, but 321 of those Test appearances are shared by just five players in lock Eben Etzebeth, fly-half Handre Pollard, centre Jesse Kriel, prop Trevor Nyakane and flanker Pieter-Steph Du Toit.

Biggar, though, has no doubt about Wales’ degree of difficulty in Bloemfontein as they target a first win against the Springboks on South African soil.

Wales require 10-15 per cent improvement for result in South Africa, says Dan Biggar

South Africa will not take a step back against Wales, insists Handre Pollard

14:51 , Luke Baker

Handre Pollard says South Africa “will not take a step back” as they prepare to meet Wales’ physical approach head-on in the second Test.

The series opener last weekend was decided by a Damian Willemse penalty with the game’s final kick as South Africa edged home 32-29.

The teams meet again in Bloemfontein, when World Cup winner Pollard returns to international action after helping Montpellier land the French Top 14 title.

He has also been handed the captaincy by head coach Jacques Nienaber, leading a Springboks side showing 14 changes following the dramatic success at Loftus Versfeld.

“We know Wales will get under our skin, but we will not take a step back,” fly-half Pollard said. “In fact, that usually brings the best out of us.

“Wales are a tough team. They don’t go away and they are physical, but we are prepared for that. They also have a good tactical game, so it is going to be hard Test rugby, but if there is space out wide we will try to take it.”

South Africa will not take a step back against Wales, insists Handre Pollard

Wales vs South Africa team news

14:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wayne Pivac has made just one change to his Wales starting XV from a week ago. Alex Cuthbert comes onto the wing, with Josh Adams dropping to the bench, while Saracens prop Sam Wainwright is in line to win his first cap having been named amongst the replacements.

Things could not be more different in the Springboks camp, however. Jacques Nienaber has made 14 changes, as only Eben Etzebeth remains from the line-up that won the opening Test of the series in Johannesburg.

Handre Pollard comes in at fly-half to captain the side and although there are two uncapped players in the starting team - wing Kurt-Lee Arendse and No 8 Evan Roos - there is also plenty of experience in the line-up. Any team boasting the likes of Pollard, Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Andre Esterhuizen and Jesse Kriel won’t be a pushover...

South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Kurt Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Handre Pollard (c), 9 Jaden Henrikse; 1 Thomas du Toit, 2 Joseph Dweba, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Marvin Orie, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Evan Roos .

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Deon Fourie, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Damian Willemse.

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Gareth Thomas, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 Adam Beard, 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Taulupe Faletau .

Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Josh Adams.

Wales vs South Africa

14:39 , Luke Baker

The next game this afternoon will see Wales take on South Africa in Bloemfontein, looking to bounce back from the disappointment of a week ago and that heartbreaking loss in Pretoria.

Kick-off is around 90 minutes away, so we’ll take you through all the build-up and key storylines before then.

Owen Farrell kicks 20 points as England weather Australia storm to level series

14:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England showed resolve to weather a second-half storm from Australia to clinch a 25-17 victory at Suncorp Stadium that takes their series to a decider in Sydney next Saturday.

Owen Farrell kicks 20 points as England weather Australia storm to level series

On to the decider!

13:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A few injury worries for both sides ahead of the decider in Sydney next week. Sam Underhill and Maro Itoje both did not re-emerge after appearing to suffer brain injuries, and Underhill’s history will almost certainly rule him out of the third Test. Australia, meanwhile, are in real woe - Scott Sio, Cadeyrn Neville, Jordan Petaia and Izaia Perese may all play no further part in the series.

Michael Hooper on Australia’s defeat

13:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“England came out really hot, it was tough to stop them in that part of the game,” the Wallabies skipper begins. “Giving away a 19-point lead, it is always going to be tough to get back into [it].

“We knew they were coming out hard. We wanted to win that battle and I don’t think we did that tonight.

“We’’ll have a look at the tape. We felt heavily penalised in the first half, all our own doing, and they are a really solid team. They took points nearly every time and we can’t give them that access.”

F/T: Australia 17-25 England

13:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That win rather stops the rot for England. Defeat would have been the fourth in a row (five including the non-capped Barbarians fixture) and it looked for a while like they might just contrive to again throw it away.

Owen Farrell also offers some reacton: “A tough Test match. The way we started the game was outstanding. We felt we didn’t throw a punch last week but we started with a bang.

“I just want people to be themselves, free people up. We never really got going last week, but we know what we are capable of. There are a lot of things that we can tidy up in that middle patch of the game, so we will make sure we work on that. Discipline being one, and just to be able to get the momentum back a bit quicker. We need to be smarter, not back up an error with an error.

“I thought the boys who have come in and made their debuts have been outstanding. It is only the start for them. Who knows where they can take it, but I am looking forward to being part of that with them.”

Sky Sports grab Courtney Lawes for a chat

13:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“Really proud of the boys, we stuck in there, we knew they were going to come back at some point and it was tough there for a while, but we came through it,” the England captain says of the performance.

“We have been working hard to get our strategy right and get used to playing together. We showed at the end there that our defence can get us on the front foot, but we let them score too easily - in international rugby, you can’t realy have that. We are glad we could put on a performance for everyone back home.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

F/T: Australia 17-25 England

13:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Rather nervier for England than it looked like it might be after a dominant first half, but Eddie Jones’ side cling on and take the series to a decider. The first half-hour or so was about the best England have played in a long while, full of direction and clarity, but another wobble will be a worry for Jones. Still, they just about closed it out, going back to their power game and the maul, and that is a much-needed win.

Credit to the Wallabies for fighting back into the contest on another night of injury misfortune, but they will rue some basic errors at the set-piece which meant they never quite nudged ahead.

FULL TIME! AUSTRALIA 17-25 ENGLAND

13:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Australia 17-25 England, 80 minutes

13:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Samu Kerevi taps and sets off, but soon enough the ball is back in England’s hands after a breakdown penalty. Tapped, booted into touch - it’s 1-1.

Australia 17-25 England, 79 minutes

13:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Will Joseph touch the ball? Not initially as England play through the forwards, but here he comes, crisp white shirt flashing under the glare of the lights.

Not the best start - pinged for holding on. Last chance for Australia...

Australia 17-25 England, 78 minutes

13:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And now a penalty for England! Angus Bell has done remarkably well, playing all but about 30 seconds of this encounter on the loosehead due to Scott Sio’s injury, but he perhaps shows his fatigue here, penalised for hinging under the pressure of Joe Heyes.

Time ticking by. A debut for Will Joseph off the England bench - Guy Porter is replaced.

Australia 17-25 England, 77 minutes

13:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Australian possession inside their own half. Farrell gets a useful piece of Samu Kerevi as the centre arcs, meaning the beef of his biff is reduced, enabling two England teammates to handle him well.

Joe Heyes similarly gets a vital grab of Rob Valetini’s thigh to slow another of Australia’s bigger ball carriers.

Marika Koroibete on the short line...forward pass! Jake Gordon puts his hands on his head, but the replacement scrum-half’s pass looked forward from the hands. England scrum.

Australia 17-25 England, 76 minutes

13:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England play the percentages, keeping things tight with Owen Farrell directing his forwards into the Australia defence before securing the ruck himself.

Marcus Smith kicks high, and long...mark claimed by James O’Connor.

Missed penalty ! Australia 17-25 England, 74 minutes

13:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Owen Farrell strikes and...it drifts wide! A slight tug to the left, starting at the upright but drifting ever away, and the assistants’ flags stay down. The gap stays at eight.

Australia 17-25 England, 73 minutes

13:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England maul well again - and there’s the penalty advantage for a leg lift. Australia haven’t really found an answer to the drive when England have got their darts right, as Luke Cowan-Dickie does here.

It’s on the ten-metre line, and a little in-field. Posts, surely? Yep - the tee is on.

Australia 17-25 England, 71 minutes

12:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Excellent from Courtney Lawes! He had an expert jackal in the first-half and his position is textbook again as Australia fruitlessly explore a white-walled blindside. Penalty to England.

Australia 17-25 England, 70 minutes

12:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Enter Henry Arundell, hoping for another carbonated cameo after an impressive debut for England last week.

Australia’s lineout goes wrong, but they’ll have another go from a similar spot after Arundell makes a tackle in the air.

Australia 17-25 England, 69 minutes

12:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But James O’Connor misses touch! Too long and floating dead, though the touch judge curiously allows England to play on despite Danny Care standing out of play when he leaps and taps back infield.

Anyway, play continues. A good deep kick from Australia forces Freddie Steward to run out of his own in-goal, punting with a relative lack of distance to 30 metres or so from his own line.

Australia 17-25 England, 68 minutes

12:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Pete Samu, so good off the bench last week, is sent on by Australia, and immediately produces a lively piece of footwork to win the gainline.

England turn the ball over, but Joe Heyes gets a little lost at the base, picking up with nobody to pass to and squeezed by the Australian fringe defence. Penalty to Australia.

PENALTY! Australia 17-25 ENGLAND (Owen Farrell penalty, 67 minutes)

12:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A timely three points for England, back out of range of a single Australian score.

Australia 17-22 England, 66 minutes

12:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Advantage coming for England. Freddie Steward wriggles the arms off him, can he reach out for the white line? Not quite!

To the forwards, biffing around the corner, a great group of them joining together to try and surge past the posts...but held up!

Back for the penalty

Australia 17-22 England, 65 minutes

12:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Immediately more fizz for England with Smith back on the pitch. They canter up the left.

Clever from Owen Farrell! Cross-kick into acres of open space for Jack Nowell, who beats two defenders.

Into the Australia 22...

Australia 17-22 England, 64 minutes

12:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But now the Wallabies are struggling to truly take advantage of their supremacy! Folau Fainga’a thrrow is not even close to straight.

Marcus Smith returns, joined in making his way on to the pitch by Danny Care, who replaces Jack van Poortvliet. Good first start from the Leicester youngster, though he has faded.

Australia 17-22 England, 63 minutes

12:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dynamite Tom Wright! The Australian wing has been relatively quiet but explodes into life, spotting a couple of forwards he can torment with a shimmy and dashing up the centre.

He chips beyond Tommy Freeman and drags the England man into touch. Australia lineout inside England’s 22.

Australia 17-22 England, 62 minutes

12:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England go back to basics, and that powerful maul drive, slowly ratcheting up the presssure as they drive 20 metres or so.

But it all gets untidy in attack with Smith still off the field and eventually Australia latch on to a loose pass.

Australia 17-22 England, 60 minutes

12:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Two minutes left until Marcus Smith is permitted to return as Australia steal another English lineout. Matt Philip again - he’s been excellent aerially today.

That’s rather wasteful, though, from James O’Connor, kicking with a hint of an overlap on turnover ball and only managing to skew out on the full. An apologetic wave of his right hand towards his teammates.

Australia 17-22 England, 59 minutes

12:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Scrum penalty for England! Mako Vunipola is on for Ellis Genge at looshead but on the opposite side Will Stuart is still grumbling on, forcing Angus Bell to floor as he gets a shove on.

Stuart is on no longer - Joe Heyes is sent for to replace the prop.

Australia 17-22 England, 58 minutes

12:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Better defence initially from England, quelling Australia’s maul and then hurrying up into the face of Hunter Paisami, forcing an errant pull-back pass in the direction of Noah Lolesio.

Lolesio picks up on the bounce, but the sting is out of Australia’s attack. Another intricate sketch from the backs ends with a Marika Koroibete knock-on.

Australia 17-22 England, 57 minutes

12:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The reason Frost is on the field is another injury worry for Australia - it’s last week’s debutant Cadeyrn Neville, and it looks another potentially serious one, Neville unable to continue and carted off.

Sam Underhill has departed, too, after taking a bang to the head. Lewis Ludlam in the England defensive line as Australia launch again from the lineout.

Australia 17-22 England, 57 minutes

12:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Luke Cowan-Dickie is on the field and performs his duties well, allowing Jack van Poortvliet to clear long after a safe lineout.

But this is beginning to feel familiar for England. James O’Connor threatens to crack their kick chase wide open as he counter-attacks, while Samu Kerevi is again growing in influence, making metres up the left. Another penalty the Wallabies’ way - kicked again to the corner.

Before the lineout, a debut for Nick Frost in the Australian second row. No sign of Simon Pegg.

Australia 17-22 England, 55 minutes

12:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Momentum is very much with Australia now. Nic White is beginning to take jurisdiction over this contest, producing an outstanding diagonal kick from halfway, punching air with delight as Tommy Freeman fails to hurry back and keep it in the field of play.

50:22? Not quite! White argues the toss but the tackled player at the ruck after which he kicked is ruled to be just inside the England half. A marginal call, but a big one - England will have the lineout throw.

PENALTY! AUSTRALIA 17-22 England (Noah Lolesio penalty, 54 minutes)

12:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Noah Lolesio bisects the posts. Australia close the gap.

YELLOW CARD! Marcus Smith is sent to the sin bin! Australia 14-22 England, 53 minutes

12:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England are wobbling - again! An extended hand from Marcus Smith as he shoots from the line to try and stop a flat Australan pass. A clear deliberate knock-on and off he is sent for a stint on the naughty step.

Australia 14-22 England, 52 minutes

12:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Angus Bell’s rear end would have made little imprint upon the bench - he’s back into action with Sio guided off.

Australia beginning to build back into the contest. Rob Leota arrives from deep, gathering speed up the runway, grabbing Nic White’s floated pop as he takes off into Ollie Chessum and Sam Underhill.

The England pair handle Leota, but Underhill then curiously rips the ball free from the Australian’s hand having failed to re-take his feet. Australia again deep into English territory after kicking the penalty down towards the 22.

Australia 14-22 England, 51 minutes

12:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Changes in the Australian front row - Scott Sio and James Slipper replace Angus Bell and Taniela Tupou.

More injury woe, though, for the Wallabies - moments after coming on, Sio fails to get up swiftly from a collision with the sharp bits (knee, hip) of both Will Stuart and Sam Underhill’s lower limbs.

TRY! AUSTRALIA 14-22 England (Samu Kerevi try, 48 minutes)

12:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Space on the left and Samu Kerevi scores! Another meaty carry from Taniela Tupou, brushing off Marcus Smith and condensing the England defence.

Over to the backs with a two-man overlap, and Noah Lolesio picks his option well, fizzing across the face of James O’Connor to Kerevi, who rounds the bend to make the conversion easier, just about remembering to ground before Smith covers across.

It was a useful little wander in-field, though - over goes the conversion. Much better from the Wallabies.

Australia 7-22 England, 47 minutes

12:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A good initial maul drive from the Wallabies, who then go to close-in carries with five metres left to be gained. Taniela Tupou bristles around the corner with support from Michael Hooper, and then it is the variation - wider to Noah Lolesio, launching Hunter Paisami from his inside shoulder. Advantage coming...

Australia 7-22 England, 45 minutes

12:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Looks of disbelief from the England front row towards Andrew Brace as they are penalised despite getting a nudge on at the scrum - but this time, it looks a fair enough call against Will Stuart, losing his bind more certainly than when pinged in the first half. Australia kick into the left-hand corner for their first visit to the England 22 of the half.

Australia 7-22 England, 44 minutes

12:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Messy restart defusal from England, letting it hit the deck and allowing Marika Koroibete steal in and nearly grab Nic White’s clever, floaty diagonal drop-kick. Koroibete knocks on - fortunate for the visitors.

PENALTY! Australia 7-22 ENGLAND (Owen Farrell penalty, 43 minutes)

12:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another simple enough job from the tee for Owen Farrell, who has been secure as you like after some wobbles with the boot last week.

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