World champions South Africa required an 83rd-minute penalty from Damian Willemse to defeat an indisciplined Wales side 32-29 in Pretoria.

The Springboks' first home match in front of a crowd since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup was an epic – albeit not the sort the South Africa fans might have anticipated.

Despite four yellow cards that saw Wales squander a half-time advantage, Wayne Pivac's men almost rescued a remarkable result, only to be denied at the last.

Two Louis Rees-Zammit tries gave Wales a commanding lead, but Dan Biggar headed to the sin bin shortly before the interval, and Bongi Mbonambi powered over following the restart.

Malcolm Marx also crossed, and the visitors appeared to have collapsed after Cheslin Kolbe's try was followed by a yellow card for Alun Wyn Jones – the awarding of which caused some confusion.

Rees-Zammit went from hero to zero as his desperate attempt to stop a South Africa try saw him join Jones on the sidelines, and Wales were down to 12 men and behind when Rhys Carre's intervention resulted in a penalty try.

But the tourists did not lack spirit and sensationally drew level again through Dewi Lake with 13 on the pitch, only for Biggar to marginally miss the posts with the conversion when he could have secured a late lead.

Instead, Biggar's knock-on at the other end allowed Willemse to kick the Springboks to a memorable triumph to begin this three-Test series, which continues in Bloemfontein next Saturday.

Eddie Jones suggested Darcy Swain's first-half dismissal worked in Australia's favour as England crashed to a dismal fourth defeat in a row.

England initially took advantage of their opponents being down to 14 men thanks to Ellis Genge's try early in the second half, only to then collapse in remarkable style.

Jordan Petaia, Folau Fainga'a and Pete Samu crossed over to put Australia out of sight, with Henry Arundell and Jack van Poortvliet tries mere consolations for England.

The visitors were five points ahead with 20 minutes left but went on to lose 30-28, and Jones says their terrible final-quarter showing was not helped by Swain's earlier sending off.

"In some ways, the red card can work against you. Sometimes the referee wants to compensate. We didn't adjust as well as we should have," Jones told Sky Sports.

"We had enough moments to win the game. At 14-9 with 20 minutes to go we should have put it away. The reaction from the boys is to win this series 2-1. We have to go again.

"The message at half-time was to keep putting pressure on and we did that in spurts. We lost the ball twice on their try-line and we didn't pressure them, whereas Australia did. 

"We need to work on our finishing and a bit on our defence as well. There are still some positives to come from what has been a very disappointing result for us."

Jones clarified at his news conference that he did not blame referee James Doleman for his side's defeat in Perth, but reiterated Swain's exit inadvertently helped Australia.

"You look at the history of the game, whenever you get a red card the referee evens it up. He helps the team with the red card," he said.

"It's social reciprocity, it happens, that's normal and we've got to be good enough to handle it.

"It happens in every game of rugby I've seen. The team gets a red card and the opposition gets evened up. Because they're nice blokes, referees.

"I'm not criticising the referees, I'm not using it as an excuse, that's the reality of rugby.

"I'll say it again. I think when you play against 14 men the referee has a significant impact on the game and you've got to be good enough to understand what that is.

"We weren't good enough to understand what that is and therefore we paid the price."

England's defeat was their first against Australia in nine Tests amid a run stretching back to October 2015, pre-dating Jones' time in charge.

Not only did the home side play more than half of the match a man light, they also lost three players to first-half injuries after Quade Cooper pulled up in the warm-up.

Swain was repeatedly provoked by England's players, with Jonny Hill seen pulling his hair, but Australia coach Dave Rennie is unsure if that was a deliberate ploy from the opposition.

"I'm not sure if it was a team plan, but there was certainly provocation there. Not just in that situation but also earlier in the game," he said.

"We'll have a decent look at the footage and work out how we're going to appeal that. We'll have decent look at the card. We'll be seeking clarity around it.

"We train with the scenario of playing with 14 or 13 players all the time. What we know is that we just have to work harder. We found a way."

Australia have now won their last five Tests on home soil – their best-such run since 2008 – and five of their last eight when hosting European opposition.

The second match in the three-Test series takes place in Brisbane next Saturday, before concluding in Sydney the following weekend.

Australia snapped an eight-match losing run against England in thrilling fashion with a 30-28 victory at Optus Stadium in Perth, despite playing more than half of Saturday's contest with 14 men.

The hosts lost fly-half Quade Cooper to injury just before kick-off and were given an even bigger headache when Darcy Swain was dismissed six minutes before half-time for headbutting Jonny Hill.

Eddie Jones' men were leading 6-0 at that point thanks to a couple of Owen Farrell penalties and looked good value to extend their winning streak in this fixture, only for Noah Lolesio to level from the boot before the interval, by which point Australia had lost three more to injury.

England finally managed to shake off their opponents when some great execution and patience from a maul allowed Ellis Genge to cross over for the first try of the three-Test series, but Australia again refused to give up and edged in front through a Jordan Petaia try 15 minutes later.

That led to a remarkable England collapse, with Folau Fainga'a claiming the ball from a line-out and sneaking through just two minutes after being introduced, before Pete Samu added a third try following another fine team drive.

Lolesio converted all three of those tries but was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on, meaning Australia were down to 13 men late on, at which point debutant Henry Arundell raced through with his first involvement after being brought on.

Another England debutant in Jack van Poortvliet finished shortly after, with Farrell again adding the extras, but England did not have a chance to resume play in a defeat that will lead to more questions being asked of Jones.

Ardie Savea bagged a double as New Zealand overcame a difficult week of preparations to swat aside Ireland with a 42-19 win in the first Test in Auckland.

The All Blacks overcame a nervy start against Andy Farrell's visitors to gradually, and then ruthlessly, impose themselves upon proceedings at Eden Park.

Ireland, who lost influential fly-half Johnny Sexton half-an-hour in after he failed a head injury assessment, had arrived for their three-game tour looking to back up victory in November with a first win in New Zealand.

An early try for Keith Earls looked to represent the perfect start for them, particularly against a home team whose build-up had been ransacked by a COVID-19 outbreak, requiring ex-Ireland boss Joe Schmidt to step into their coaching ranks.

But a barnstorming run by debutant Leicester Fainga’anuku helped get Jordie Barrett over the line in response, sparking a fluid All Blacks passage, with finishes for Sevu Reece, Quinn Tupaea and Savea setting a 28-5 advantage at the break.

Garry Ringrose responded after the interval to give Ireland hope, but a superb solo second for Savea sealed the game,before Pita Gus Sowakula crossed for a try on debut and Bundee Aki nabbed a late consolation finish in the closing stages.

Michael Hooper says Australia are ready to "rip in" and "turn the ledger" on England when they do battle in the first Test on Saturday.

England have won eight consecutive matches against the Wallabies ahead of the showdown at Optus Stadium.

Australia captain Hooper is determined to end that dismal run in Perth this weekend and take a 1-0 lead over Eddie Jones' side in the three-match series

"It's a motivation to win and turn the ledger," he said.

"We have three games at home to do it. It’s been a long time since we’ve played these fellas out here, so we're excited about it.

"It's the top rivalry, isn’t it? Having the Ashes at the back end of last year and this year, the whole of Australian population gets behind whether they're here or in England, it's bragging rights, so it's big for the fans and us.

"There’s some great history between the two teams and two teams rolling into a World Cup next year.

"We're really excited, history hasn’t been in our favour for quite some time now against the English and we're keen to rip in.

"They’re always a tough outfit. They’ve picked a powerful team with some real skill and experience involved there. We’re expecting a tough time."

Hooker David Porecki and lock Cadeyrn Neville will make their Wallabies debuts on Saturday.

At the age of 33 years and 235 days, Neville is to become the third-oldest Australia debutant since World War II.

 

Michael Hooper says Australia are ready to "rip in" and "turn the ledger" on England when they do battle in the first Test on Saturday.

England have won eight consecutive matches against the Wallabies ahead of the showdown at Optus Stadium.

Australia captain Hooper is determined to end that dismal run in Perth this weekend and take a 1-0 lead over Eddie Jones' side in the three-match series

"It's a motivation to win and turn the ledger," he said.

"We have three games at home to do it. It’s been a long time since we’ve played these fellas out here, so we're excited about it.

"It's the top rivalry, isn’t it? Having the Ashes at the back end of last year and this year, the whole of Australian population gets behind whether they're here or in England, it's bragging rights, so it's big for the fans and us.

"There’s some great history between the two teams and two teams rolling into a World Cup next year.

"We're really excited, history hasn’t been in our favour for quite some time now against the English and we're keen to rip in.

"They’re always a tough outfit. They’ve picked a powerful team with some real skill and experience involved there. We’re expecting a tough time."

Hooker David Porecki and lock Cadeyrn Neville will make their Wallabies debuts on Saturday.

At the age of 33 years and 235 days, Neville is to become the third-oldest Australia debutant since World War II.

 

Eddie Jones has the respect of England's players but must deliver results if he is to lift pressure from his shoulders ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup, according to former Australia captain George Gregan.

Experienced coach Jones had his future called into question on the back of another poor Six Nations campaign for England, who finished a distant third behind Ireland and champions France with two wins from five matches.

Jones is under contract until after the 2023 World Cup and has been given the support of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), although performance director Conor O'Shea confirmed in March the search is under way for the 62-year-old's long-term successor.

Former Australia boss Jones has repeatedly stated that peaking in time for next year's showpiece in France is his big aim, with his side's three-Test series Down Under – their first summer tour in four years – providing an opportunity to further experiment.

While Gregan can understand the questions being asked of Jones, the retired scrum-half – who played under Jones for Australia and the Brumbies – understands supporters want to see signs of progress now.

"I think pressure is always there with a head coach," said Gregan, ahead of Saturday's first Test in Perth. "I'm not going to speak on his behalf, but he knows that as a head coach it's all results driven in professional sport.

"If you're not getting the results, and particularly if you're not getting consistent Ws [wins], then it does come around: 'Why is the team not performing?' That was definitely the case with Six Nations where there's patches of really good performances.

"But then obviously some things also which can get taken out of your hands, which is decision-making, you lose plays in the bin, all that kind of stuff. But that's rugby. And so how do you adapt? And how do you adjust? But they're all good experiences and learning experiences.

"I know there was no Jonny May, there was no Owen Farrell, there's a lot of players missing in that Six Nations campaign, they'll probably take part in this coming tour. And then he's built a nice squad."

Gregan is supporting The Open Championship Claret Jug Tour, partnered with HSBC UK, and he added: "I think you've always got your eyes a little bit ahead for the World Cup. And that's definitely the case for someone like Eddie and all coaches, but it's also the here and now, and they'll be looking to really improve and try not to drop out of games. I think every good team wants to do that."

 

England may have struggled for consistent form, but they have won their last eight Tests against Australia since October 2015, conceding an average of just 14 points per game across the last four of those matches.

Jones is undefeated against his country of birth during his near-seven-year England tenure, meanwhile, and famously oversaw a series whitewash in 2016.

Gregan believes the England boss will have the full backing of his dressing room.

"Eddie is a real players' coach. He's really driven to create the best environment for his players to perform," Gregan said. "He's the hardest marker on the team's performance on himself. I think you see that a lot.

"He'll deflect to the team when it's doing well, and he’ll take ownership when it's not doing well. That's a classic head coach, and he's never wavered from that. And I think that's why the players really respect him.

"He's hard, he's very consistent in terms of his messaging. He's very clear on what he wants the team to do. But he also empowers the playing group to try and do that. And that's the coach's coach.

"And ultimately, I think from my experiences with Eddie, he really wants the players to be sort of taking the reins on the field and making sure they're really comfortable making decisions to provide support.

"But as you know, coaches are sort of in the grandstand, there's only a limited amount that they can do once the players are on the pitch. I think that's what he tries to do, and all good head coaches try to encourage those leaders and the players on the field to make good decisions, which hopefully put you on the right side of the ledger."

Australia have lost three straight Tests heading into their first fixture with England this weekend, two of those by a margin of no more than two points – the last time they lost more successive games was a four-game stretch from June to August in 2018.

However, the Wallabies have won their last four matches on home turf, and four of their past seven when hosting European opposition, which Gregan believes will make for an entertaining series.

"England playing Australia in any sport is always exciting – particularly rugby," Gregan said. "Obviously there's that little touch with Eddie being a former Wallabies coach and obviously Australian. And he's had a great record against the Wallabies since he's taken over the helm in English rugby.

"It's gonna be a fantastic series, Dave Rennie, the Wallaby coaching staff and the playing group will be really targeting the series as something, which is another step in the right direction for being consistent and beating some of the top international teams.

"Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, on the bounce. So, three big Test matches over three consecutive weeks. And I think both teams, stating the obvious, will want to get off to a pretty hot start in Perth, because it's always good to be one up in those types of series."


:: The Open Championship Claret Jug Tour will visit schools, golf clubs, city centres and HSBC branches.

Glen Ella says Eddie Jones will be thriving on coming under fire and expects England to step up when they face Australia in a three-match Test series next month.

The 62-year-old heads back to his homeland with the Red Rose smarting from a chastening warm-up hammering at the hands of the Barbarians following a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

Jones is undefeated against his country of birth during his England tenure, and famously oversaw a series whitewash in 2016.

Ella, a former school-mate of Jones who also played club rugby with him at Randwick and was his assistant six years ago, feels he will conjure up a response with his back against the wall and with key men to return.

"I sit here laughing when I see some of the press that is coming out of England," he told The Guardian. "Some of it is warranted, there’s no doubt about that, but this is what he thrives on.

"They’ll come over here and put three good games together, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

"He thrives under that kind of pressure and that probably brings the best out of him, especially away from England, in an environment that he knows.

"He probably left not on the best terms in Australia but the one thing about Eddie is that he’s got a lot of belief in himself and a lot of belief in his team."

The Wallabies will have a point to prove after failing to get the better of England under Jones and they are a different proposition under Dave Rennie.

"It’s harder coaching a foreign team, as Eddie is finding at the moment, and to win the Australian public over they need to win the series," Ella added.

"But it’s a different Australia these days and especially with the Super Rugby sides on the up, there’s big expectation. England have beaten the Australians eight times under Eddie and so [Australia’s] got a lot to answer for."

 

Joe Schmidt will help New Zealand prepare for the first Test against Ireland at Eden Park on Saturday after head coach Ian Foster and two of his assistants tested positive for COVID-19.

Foster and assistant coach John Plumtree tested positive for coronavirus at the weekend and Scott McLeod is the latest coach to contract the virus.

Former Ireland head coach Schmidt will work with the New Zealand squad this week in the absence of that trio.

Centres David Havili and Jack Goodhue have also tested positive for COVID-19, so Braydon Ennor has been called up to join the squad in Auckland.

Foster said: "Joe will come in for Tuesday and Thursday's training this week, and we're really grateful to have his help.

"We've planned for this kind of disruption and we've got back-up plans and people on standby.  Joe was one of those people we could call on."

Foster added: "I've got every confidence in our coaching group, and in our senior leaders who are all stepping up in what’s a massive test for us.

"Everyone has had to deal with these kinds of disruptions over the past couple of years. This is a real opportunity for the coaching group and team to pull together."

Jonny May has tested positive for coronavirus just eight days before the first Test between England and Australia, leaving the winger's availability uncertain.

May was named as part of Eddie Jones' 36-man touring squad for the three-Test series, which starts on July 2 in Perth.

The 32-year-old has played 69 times for England but could struggle to feature in the opening Test, with May having to spend seven days in isolation as local regulations in Australia stipulate.

May, who is England's second top try scorer in history, missed the Six Nations after undergoing knee surgery in January, making his international comeback in the 52-21 thrashing to the Barbarians last Sunday.

Head coach Jones could be without his star winger but refused to rule him out ahead of the clash with the Wallabies.

"We're not going to rule Jonny May out at this stage. We'll just see how he is," Jones said on Friday.

"Potentially he'll be available next Thursday to train, so we'll have a look to see what he's like because he's experienced and he's showed in his first game back against the Barbarians that he's lacking game time and that he's got his best rugby ahead of him.

"We'll just monitor his situation and make an assessment closer to the day when he gets out."

Eddie Jones has selected uncapped full-back Tommy Freeman to play for England against the Barbarians, while Danny Care was named on the bench for the first time since 2018.

Care was due to play for the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, having not been selected for England since being hooked at half-time against Japan four years ago.

The veteran Harlequins scrum-half has 84 England caps and has stood out in the Premiership this season, and now gets the chance to impress ahead of the three-Test tour of Australia in July.

England's most capped player and regular scrum-half Ben Youngs is unavailable due to his commitments with Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final against Saracens on Saturday.

Care's Harlequins team-mate Jack Walker also makes his first England appearance, with Freeman and Gloucester centre Mark Atkinson the other uncapped players to start.

Winger Joe Cokanasiga returns after an almost year-long absence, while Jonny May is on the other wing after a knee injury kept him out of the Six Nations.

Jonny Hill is another who missed the Six Nations but was recalled to the side, which will be captained by back-rower Tom Curry.

England's Six Nations captain Courtney Lawes was named among the replacements, alongside the uncapped trio of Will Goodrick-Clarke, Patrick Schickerling and Orlando Bailey.

"This is a young team, they have prepared really well and worked hard over the past few camps to come together as a group," Jones said. 

"It is a great opportunity to play in this England XV side and show what they can do.

“We are looking forward to playing against an unusually French Barbarians side – which you normally only get when you play the French Barbarians.

"We'll use it as an opportunity to develop combinations and assess players for the Australia tour.

"We will put our best foot forward and it should make for a great game of rugby for all of the supporters at Twickenham."

England team: Tommy Freeman, Joe Cokanasiga, Joe Marchant, Mark Atkinson, Jonny May, Marcus Smith Harry Randall; Bevan Rodd, Will Collier, Charlie Ewels, Jonny Hill, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Alex Dombrandt.

Replacements: Jack Singleton, Will Goodrick-Clarke, Patrick Schickerling, Courtney Lawes, Jack Willis, Danny Care, Orlando Bailey, Jack Nowell.

Wales great and former British and Irish Lions captain Phil Bennett has died aged 73.

Bennett is widely regarded as one of the best fly-halves to ever play for Wales, making 29 appearances for his country and helping them to two Five Nations grand slams and three triple crowns.

He was also an integral figure on the unbeaten British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 1974, while he enjoyed 20 outings with the Barbarians.

Bennett, who was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2005, was also just the second Welshman to captain the Lions on their 1977 visit to New Zealand.

Former club Scarlets confirmed the passing of their president on Sunday, with executive chairman Simon Muderack saying: "As a club, region and community, we are devastated by this news.

"Wherever the Scarlets travel around the world, people mention the name Phil Bennett. He was an icon of our sport, a rugby superstar, but someone who always remembered his roots.

"There was no finer ambassador of Scarlets Rugby than Phil, a player respected across the rugby world, both during his career and long after he finished playing.

"Phil was a hero and friend to so many people, not only in Llanelli and west Wales, but throughout the game and I am sure a lot of Scarlets supporters will have their own particular stories of the times they met and chatted to 'Benny'. He loved the club and epitomised the values we hold true – humility and pride in our community.

"On behalf of everyone at the Scarlets, we send our heartfelt condolences to Pat, Steven, James and all of Phil's family and friends at this incredibly sad time."

Former rugby league winger Suliasi Vunivalu heads a six-man list of uncapped players selected by Australia for the Test series with England.

Australia coach Dave Rennie named his 35-man squad on Sunday for the three-Test series against Eddie Jones' side, which starts in Perth on July 2.

Jed Holloway, Dave Porecki, lock Cadeyrn Neville and Vunivalu, who switched disciplines in 2019 after a league career with Melbourne Storm, have all been named in their first international squad.

Tighthead prop Pone Fa'amausili and second-rower Nick Frost are the other two uncapped players to be called up, while the in-form Fraser McReight was a notable omission.

The experienced Reece Hodge and Kurtley Beale also missed out through injury, with Michael Hooper leading the Wallabies as captain.

Fly-half Quade Cooper and Fiji-born backs Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete, who all play in Japan, are the three overseas selections allowed to be picked under Rugby Australia rules.

"The core of this squad is a group who have performed strongly for us over the last two seasons, while strong form in Super Rugby Pacific has been rewarded with a handful of new faces," Rennie said.

"The past two years have allowed us to build strong foundations as a group but there's no doubt that we have a lot more in us.

"We're looking forward to working hard and preparing as a group to put in performances that make our supporters proud against England next month."

The group will assemble on the Sunshine Coast from Thursday in preparation for the Optus Stadium opener, with Tests to follow at Brisbane's Lang Park and the Sydney Cricket Ground.
 

Australia squad:

Forwards: Dave Porecki, Lachlan Lonergan, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Scott Sio, Allan Alaalatoa, Pone Fa'amausili, James Slipper, Angus Bell, Matt Philip, Jed Holloway, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Michael Hooper (captain), Pete Samu, Harry Wilson, Rob Valetini, Rob Leota

Backs: Nic White, Tate McDermott, Jake Gordon, Quade Cooper, James O'Connor, Noah Lolesio, Samu Kerevi, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese, Len Ikitau, Marika Koroibete, Andrew Kellaway, Tom Banks, Suliasi Vunivalu, Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia

Eddie Jones has included five new faces in a 35-man England training camp ahead of the tour of Australia next month.

Charlie Atkinson, Biyi Alo, Freddie Clarke, Sam Jeffries and Patrick Schickerling have been called up for the first time.

Wing Jonny May is back in the fold after recovering from a knee injury, while Luke Cowan-Dickie (knee) and Anthony Watson (calf) will also be in camp undertaking rehabilitation work.

Players who will feature in Premiership semi-finals this weekend will not report for international duty.

England face the Barbarians at Twickenham a week on Saturday before a three-match series against the Wallabies, starting in Perth on July 2.

Red Rose head coach Jones said: "With a number of players unavailable because of the Premiership semi-finals, we've got the opportunity to call up some new players.

"It's a great opportunity to learn about them and see what potential they have to play a part in the Australia tour.

"We look forward to continuing the good work from our last camp in developing this team on and off the pitch."

 

England training squad:

Forwards: Biyi Alo, Alfie Barbeary, Jamie Blamire, Callum Chick, Freddie Clarke, Tom Curry, Trevor Davison, Charlie Ewels, Will Goodrick-Clarke, Jonny Hill, Ted Hill, Sam Jeffries, George McGuigan, Tom Pearson, Bevan Rodd, Patrick Schickerling, Jack Singleton, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Jack Willis.

Backs: Henry Arundell, Charlie Atkinson, Mark Atkinson, Orlando Bailey, Joe Cokanasiga, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Will Joseph, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Paolo Odogwu, Max Ojomoh, Tom Parton, Adam Radwan, Harry Randall, Dan Robson.

Manu Tuilagi will miss England's three-Test tour of Australia after undergoing a knee operation, it was revealed on Thursday.

His club side, Sale Sharks, indicated the decision to opt for surgery was taken with the plan that it should put Tuilagi in a strong place ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

The injury-plagued centre missed the Six Nations this year and has featured only sporadically during Eddie Jones' tenure as head coach.

Jones recently said that Tuilagi "really wants to make an imprint on this Australian tour", but that plan will have to be shelved.

An automatic pick in the England side if fit, Jones must hope the surgery clears up the 31-year-old's latest problem.

Sale said in a statement: "Sale Sharks can confirm that Manu Tuilagi has undergone a routine procedure on his knee which will rule the 31-year-old out of this summer’s England tour to Australia.

"The club, in close consultation with England Rugby, have decided that a summer of rest and a full pre-season is the best course of action to ensure Manu is fit and available for Sale Sharks and England during a crucial year for both club and country.

"Everyone at the club wishes Manu all the best for his recovery and looks forward to seeing him at Carrington [the club's training base] for the start of pre-season."

England face the Barbarians at Twickenham on June 19 before travelling to Australia for Tests on July 2 in Perth, July 9 in Brisbane and July 16 in Sydney.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup takes place in France from September to October next year.

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