England really shot themselves in the foot by allowing New Zealand to build such a lead at Twickenham last weekend.
The All Blacks weren’t amazing but England just looked a little bit asleep at the wheel until that last quarter, when they came alive and dazzled the crowds in south west London.
There will be debate surrounding Marcus Smith’s choice to boot the ball out with the clock in the red and the score tied at 25-25 but a draw, after all, is better than a loss.
But such is the competitiveness of the autumn internationals, England go from one of the most dazzling sides on the planet to the world champions, South Africa.
The Springboks haven’t been themselves this year but a lot of that can be put down to their extended calendar, now that they’re playing their domestic game in Europe and international game in the southern hemisphere.
They lost against Ireland and France before beating Italy but have come into the autumn off the back of a long European season and then the Rugby Championship, so they’re just not quite there at the moment.
England head coach Eddie Jones’s selection does slightly baffle me. The manager has dropped vice-captains Ellis Genge and Jack Nowell, while Luke Cowan-Dickie and Sam Simmonds have also been dumped onto the bench.
In their place Jones will start Saracens duo Mako Vunipola and Jamie George in the front row while bringing in Tommy Freeman on the wing and Alex Coles in the back row.
Scrum stability for England
Whether the England boss wants scrum stability as a priority is unknown but the call to bring Mako might be one which allows England to counteract South Africa’s bench – or the bomb squad, at they call themselves – when they come on to the field in the second half.
Manu Tuilagi is in line to make his 50th appearance for England over a decade after his debut. The time that has passed between his first and latest caps shows the injury issues the Sale Sharks centre has had.
But in this, against one of the most physical teams in the world, the continued selection of Smith at No10 with Owen Farrell on his outside seems to suggest that the future for England heading into the World Cup will be built, in the back line at least, around those two players.
England have made a raft of key changes for their final autumn match tomorrow, and at this stage no one quite has any idea of what Jones’s selection policy is based upon.
But a win against the Boks would mean England finishing the autumn with two wins, while a loss would see the month concluded with a 25 per cent win rate – which, one year out from a World Cup, is not ideal.
Premiership is back
The Premiership is back after a little bit of a hiatus and I am backing the four home sides to win this weekend.
Gloucester haven’t been firing in the last couple of weeks and Harlequins should take advantage of that tonight, while I have a weird feeling Newcastle might just do it against Exeter up at Kingston Park.
Tomorrow Bristol might struggle away to Sale, while on Sunday Leicester should get past London Irish – though the London club may fancy their chances at Welford Road.