Wasps skipper Joe Launchbury won many plaudits for his contribution to England’s 25-10 win over South Africa at Cape Town on Saturday.
In heavy rain on a slippery surface running rugby was understandably at a premium, but the visitors’ dogged forward effort won the day.
Launchbury’s hard-working display, which was replicated by a number of other England forwards, won their team 14 penalties, six of which were turned into points by Owen Farrell’s unerring boot.
Eddie Jones’s team added a late try through Leicester’s Jonny May, who beat the Springbok cover to Danny Cipriani’s pinpoint cross kick.
Having gone into the break trailing 3-6, South Africa briefly led when fly half Elton Jantjies converted Jesse Kriel’s 46thminute try.
But on a day when the conditions restricted England to 237 metres with ball in hand, and forced the visitors to kick from hand on 40 occasions, the home side then conceded 15 unanswered points in the closing half-hour.
Elliot Daly and Nathan Hughes also started for England, while Willie le Roux was introduced from the bench by South African coach Rassie Erasmus at the 50-minute mark.
Head coach Jones said his team’s success was rooted in its improved composure.
“We just handled the bigger moments better,” he said.
“If you look back at the first two Tests we put ourselves in positions to win the games, but when the pressure changed we didn’t handle it well. “But on Saturday we kept our composure, focused on the next play and showed good leadership from the players.
“I said before the game that we might not have many opportunities. There was only one – it was a beautifully weighted kick and we scored.”
Scorers: South Africa: Try Kriel (46min). Conversion Jantjies. Penalty goal Jantjies (40+1). England: Try May (72). Conversion Farrell. Penalty goals Farrell 6 (10, 37, 44, 50, 58, 76)
South Africa: W Gelant; S Nkosi (rep: W le Roux 50min), J Kriel, A Esterhuizen, A Dyantyi; E Jantjies (rep: H Pollard 58), F de Klerk (rep: E Papier 76); T Mtawarira (rep: S Kitshoff 44), C Ralepelle (rep: S Brits 44), F Malherbe (rep: T du Toit 44), RG Snyman (rep: J-L du Preez 58), F Mostert, S Kolisi (rep: S Notshe 66), P-S du Toit, D Vermuelen.
England: E Daly; J May, H Slade (rep: D Solomona 78), O Farrell, M Brown; D Cipriani, B Youngs; J Marler, J George, K Sinckler (rep: H Williams 48), J Launchbury, M Itoje, C Robshaw, T Curry, N Hughes (rep: M Wilson 53).
Referee: G Jackson (NZ)