Saturday, 19 October, 2019

Rassie Erasmus' tongue-in-cheek answer to response about Owen Farrell's controversial hit

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Owen Farrell's late penalty snatched a 12-11 victory for injury-hit England in their opening November global as sloppy South Africa were left to rue a lack of ruthlessness at Twickenham.

Nobody epitomises that more than Owen Farrell, who is one of the best players in the world, and England's talisman.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard had the chance to win it for South Africa with another long-range penalty three minutes from time but his effort skimmed off the outside of the post while England's full-time celebrations were briefly halted while the referee consulted the TMO to look at a Farrell tackle.

Referee Angus Gardner decided Farrell was not too high and made enough effort to wrap his arms in the collision.

"If it was role reversal here and a South African had smashed one of the England players we would be asking for a penalty, but we will take it", admitted former England scrum-half Matt Dawson on BBC Radio 5 live.

Jones said: "You can get cited for something you did at a party when you were 15, anything could happen".

With the Boks' mistakes, their defence and fly half Owen Farrell's boot keeping them in the game, the hosts inevitably wrested the momentum away from the visitors in the third quarter, the rush defence and their own errors with ball in hand coming to Erasmus' men's aid during that period of pressure.

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South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus' response to the Farrell incident was laced with sarcasm.

"The most important thing is what we do next".

He duly ruled it legal - just - to give England a morale-boosting win after losing five of their previous six full internationals, including a 2-1 series defeat in South Africa. "As I said, I think we can be a bit more clinical but it's important to get the win and we'll enjoy this week and look forward to the next Test".

South Africa were well on top, but Malcolm Marx let England off the hook with a poor throw from a line-out and Farrell levelled expertly from the tee against the run of play before Itoje returned to the fray.

Jones said lock Courtney Lawes and centre Manu Tuilagi could come into contention against the All Blacks following injury, while he refused to rule out flanker Tom Curry, who required crutches after hobbling off in the second half. "It'll be a proper game of rugby".

England now prepare to face the All Blacks next week, for the first time in four years, while South Africa will welcome back their absentees to take on France in Paris.

Erasmus said key lock Eben Etzebeth will miss that game and potentially the rest of the tour after suffering an ankle injury early in the second half.

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