Johannesburg (AFP) – England fly-half Danny Cipriani has played down his role in the magical try that ensured victory over South Africa this weekend and ended a six-match losing streak.
The outplayed Springboks were only a converted try away from snatching a win in wet, windy and murky Cape Town when the Red Rose playmaker struck on 72 minutes.
He launched a perfectly-weighted kick across a sodden Newlands stadium pitch and winger Jonny May dashed forward to dot down for the decisive score in a 25-10 triumph.
“When you have got a winger who is that hungry, it is all up to him,” Cipriani told reporters after a series won 2-1 by South Africa.
“It was more instinct from me. There was probably one winger in the world who would have scored that try and his name is Jonny May.”
England coach Eddie Jones said: “I remarked before the game that we might not have many try-scoring opportunities because of the conditions.
“I also said that Danny would possibly be good enough to take one if it came along — and that is what he did.
“There was only one opportunity for us to score a try during the match. It was a beautifully weighted kick and we scored.”
Cipriani was starting in an English shirt for the first time since 2008 after George Ford was dropped following Test beatings in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.
The fly-half was overshadowed for most of the match by captain and centre Owen Farrell, whose flawless goal-kicking reaped 20 points from a conversion and six penalties.
But with England leading 15-10, it was the genius of one-time ‘bad boy’ Cipriani that sank the Springboks, using the cross-kick tactic world champions New Zealand are fond of.
The try by May was the first England have scored in Cape Town after two previous defeats there in 1994 and 1998 failed to yield one.
May has scored in his last five Tests and needs one against South Africa in London on November 2 to equal the Engl;and record of Rory Underwood.
“I think Jonny May has been outstanding throughout the series — he has been incredible,” raved Jones.
Scrum-half Ben Youngs was another to impress with his box-kicking constantly troubling a South African side uncomfortable in European-like conditions.
Among the forwards, Jones praised loosehead prop Joe Marler and flankers Tom Curry and Chris Robshaw, back a week after being axed by the Australian coach for the first time.