South Africa maintained their Test dominance over England with a 22-17 victory on Saturday in the debut match of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

It was the eighth win on the trot since 2006 for the green and gold over the Red Roses and a fiercely physical clash was won in the second half when fly-half Morne Steyn and centre and new captain Jean de Villiers scored tries.

Steyn had an uncharacteristic poor day with his goal kicking, missing three of seven attempts, but he landed a couple of late penalties to give his team a 10-point advantage, halved by a Ben Foden stoppage-time try.

Fly-half Owen Farrell succeeded with his four penalty shots for England, who play South Africa twice more during a three- week tour, in Johannesburg next Saturday and on June 23 in Port Elizabeth.

A number of players had to visit the blood bin with injuries and South Africa-born England inside centre Brad Barritt retired before the hour mark with a badly swollen eye.

The opening half was tight with few try-scoring chances and ended 6-6 with all the points coming via penalties with Farrell twice putting the Red Roses ahead and Steyn twice levelling.

Six Nations runners-up England impressed at the breakdown, slowing down South African ball, but were penalised several times by referee Steve Walsh for early engagement at scrums.

Farrell put England ahead on seven minutes after debutant Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth did not roll away from the tackle and Steyn restored equality seven minutes later from his first kick at goal.

England won a vital turn-over inside their '22' when South Africa threatened to score after several breaks from scrum-half Francois Hougaard took the green and gold close to the try-line.

A superb break from No 8 Ben Morgan culiminated in a penalty for England which Farrell slotted between the posts after 27 minutes and the visitors were ahead again.

South Africa counter

However, the advantage lasted just three minutes before leading 2011 Rugby World Cup scorer Steyn kicked his second penalty after England were caught offside.

England were expected to have the upper hand at the line-outs against uncapped Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger, but they went with the throw until just before half-time when England 'stole' one after a deflection.

Steyn had a chance to put the Springboks ahead in first-half stoppage time, but easily the most difficult kick of the half from close to the touchline drifted right of the posts.

South Africa were a transformed team from the start of the second half, winning more breakdown ball, and far quicker, and by the hour mark had established a 16-6 advantage through a couple of unconverted tries.

A good midfield break by left wing Bryan Habana was followed on by De Villiers and Jannie du Plessis, and ended with Steyn selling a dummy to go over far out for a try he failed to convert.

England could not get out of their half and had a let-off when South Africa opted to run a close-range penalty that failed to yield any reward, much to the fury of a visibly tense Meyer.

But the disappointment was soon forgotten as another Habana break led to a second Springbok try with De Villiers taking a JP Pietersen pass and cutting in to dot down with Steyn once more failing to convert.

Farrell kicked two penalties within three minutes to cut the South African advantage to 16-12 before Steyn atoned for three consecutive misses by slotting a penalty.

Another Steyn penalty made the game safe at 22-12 before Foden eluded the tackle of Francois Steyn to dive over in the corner for a consolation try that Farrell could not convert.

Source: AFP