England ended their tour of South Africa on a positive note as they fought back to claim a 14-14 draw in the third Test.
Danny Care gave them an early lead by marking his international return with a try at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium but JP Pietersen looked to have given the Springboks a decisive edge just after the hour.
England did not wilt and Owen Farrell’s second penalty of a disjointed and scrappy contest secured a draw. Farrell even had a late chance to win the game but sliced a drop-goal attempt horribly wide.
But after defeats in Durban and Johannesburg – and nine in succession in total to the Springboks – England will have been happy to settle for only the second draw in history between the two sides.
The game never really got flowing as rain swirled around the impressive arena on Port Elizabeth’s seafront, venue for England’s win over Slovenia in the 2010 football World Cup.
England went ahead with a Toby Flood penalty in the second minute but the fly-half needed treatment after a heavy collision moments later and struggled to continue.
After Morne Steyn levelled the scores England claimed the first try after a clearance kick from the Springbok fly-half was charged down by Tom Palmer. The ball was recycled quickly and Care crashed over.
Flood was unable to convert and, still not right, was replaced by Farrell soon after. Steyne landed two out of three penalty attempts to give his side a 9-8 advantage at half time, but Farrell gave England a two-point lead shortly after the break, slotting home a penalty of his own in the 45th minute.
England were stretched when Ruan Pienaar spun out a fine pass for Pietersen, scorer of the decisive try in the second Test, and the winger went around the outside and touched down. But with Steyn missing the conversion, England were not out of touch and mounted a spirited response with Manu Tuilagi forcing his way forward.
They had to settle for a penalty but Farrell kept his composure and drilled between the posts to level the score. Steyn failed with a drop goal attempt as time ticked away. England looked to line up their own opportunity as they held on to possession after the final hooter but Farrell sliced his effort too low.
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