Springboks rout beleaguered England

Wing Bryan Habana scored two tries and fullback Percy Montgomery kicked 23 points as South Africa inflicted a record 58-10 defeat on beleaguered England in the first of two Tests on Saturday.

Wing Bryan Habana scored two tries and fullback Percy Montgomery kicked 23 points as South Africa inflicted a record 58-10 defeat on beleaguered England in the first of two Tests on Saturday.

England, missing most of their first-choice players and further weakened by a virus sweeping through the squad, competed decently in spells but made too many errors and trailed 30-3 at halftime.

They put up some resistance in the first 30 minutes of the second half and scored a try through James Simpson-Daniel but the Springboks finished strongly to pile on 28 points in the last 10 minutes.

The victory surpassed their 35-9 Johannesburg success in 1984 and 44-21 1999 World Cup quarterfinal victory as the biggest margin and highest score against England. Montgomery succeeded with all 10 of his kicks at goal - seven conversions and three penalties, while wing Ashwin Willemse, flank Schalk Burger - both on their returns to international action after lengthy injury absences - centre Jean de Villiers, replacement wing Francois Steyn and replacement prop CJ van der Linde also scored tries.

"We went in at halftime bitterly disappointed, we gave them two tries and you can't afford to make basic mistakes against the likes of South Africa," England captain Jason Robinson told Sky Sports TV.

"(At the end) we were out on our feet. For the first 25 minutes of the second half we put up a good fight but towards the end they opened us up."

Coach Brian Ashton, without more than 30 first-choice players and forced to shuffle his side this week because of the virus problems, said: "I'm not making excuses but there were three or four who shouldn't have been out there at the end but they had to stay on because there was no-one else to bring on."

Ashton said Iain Balshaw was having a scan on a shin injury while Jonny Wilkinson went off with a back spasm. Both face a fitness race to make the second Test next week. - Reuters

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