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Refusal to bow shows England ready for All Black ‘benchmark’ | Robert Kitson

Second-half revival in narrow win over South Africa leaves Eddie Jones eager for Test against the best

This time next year the Rugby World Cup will have just finished and Saturday’s opening match of the Quilter autumn series will mostly be forgotten. The majority will only recall South Africa literally throwing away a game they should have won and the dubious late decision not to penalise Owen Farrell for exactly the type of hit World Rugby wants to outlaw.

Within the England camp, nevertheless, this may yet prove a small but pivotal breakthrough in terms of their 2019 prospects. Its value lay not in the quality of the rugby – neither side were anywhere close to outstanding – but in the red rose character it revealed. Sometimes it is slightly fortunate, against-the-grain success that gives teams more inner belief than days when victory is squeezed more smoothly from the tube.

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