Rugby Union: England ready to counter a Springboks revival: Ojomoh for Richards is tourists' only change as they look for historic series win. Steve Bale reports from Cape Town

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The Independent Online
RUGBY history, as recent as last Saturday, insists that nothing be taken for granted, but it is as hard to state a convincing case against England in this afternoon's second Test at Newlands as it was to state one against South Africa last Saturday.

A week is a long time and all that. In fact, the 20 minutes during which they were blown away by England in Pretoria were an eternity for the Springboks, and having been guilty of the sin of hubris in the build-up to that match they have now lurched to the other extreme: despair.

That, at any rate, is the public perception, despite the ritual optimism being expressed by Francois Pienaar, the South African captain. 'Life is all about second chances,' he philosophised - though five of the team beaten

32-15 at Loftus Versfeld have not been accorded that very privilege.

The obvious analogy is whether the second-chancers can do as New Zealand did between the second and third Tests against the Lions last year, by analysing their opponents' game and working out a means of combating it. Such a conclusive defeat is - or it was for the All Blacks - a fierce motivation, and for the Springboks, today will be a test of character as much as of ability.

'No one can take away the embarrassment we felt after the first Test, Pienaar reminisced, not fondly. 'It was the worst thing I've experienced in rugby.' It also did not accord with the South Africans' own image of themselves as world leaders of rugby, and that is a hard humiliation to bear.

Now it is England who lead the way, with the burden of rugby history hanging heavily about them as they seek an unprecedented achievement. If they add victory today to last week's, they will become the first touring side to win both Tests of a two-match series in South Africa. Apart from the Springboks, only the Lions of 1974 and the French of 1958 and 1993 have won a series here.

'We are trying to keep it all in proportion,' Dick Best, the coach, said as England finished their preparations at Newlands yesterday, 'because we don't want to make the same mistake as the Lions last year. But we are all aware that England traditionally aren't great tourists and the thought that we would be the first to come away with a series is at the back of everyone's mind.'

Dean Richards bowed to the almost inevitable when his injured calf pulled him up after 10 minutes of the warm-up, and he pulled out of the team. Ben Clarke moves to No 8 to accommodate Steve Ojomoh on the open side, giving England a younger and pacier back row as compensation for the loss of Richards's bear-hugging qualities. Lawrence Dallaglio joins the bench.

The other member of the loose-forward triumvirate, Tim Rodber, trained for the first time since his dismissal in Port Elizabeth, his stomach upset having been alleviated by a couple of days in bed. Eastern Province's two-week suspension of Simon Tremain, sent off with Rodber on Tuesday, has left England unmoved, even after yesterday's protest by Bernard Lapasset, the French federation president, to the International Board that, because it was England, they had received preferential treatment.

Rodber plays because the disciplinary panel judged the sending- off to have been sufficient, as indeed it did with Tremain. 'It probably did him no harm to have a break and we are hoping for a better performance from him than last week,' Best said in sardonic acknowledgement that, at Loftus, Rodber's performance was actually close to perfection.

So, during the first, galvanic quarter was England's, but the swift realisation that such an opening surge will be impossible to repeat means they have to start all over again. 'You will never see that again as long as you watch rugby,' Best said. 'This time it will be a kitchen-sink, eyeballs-out job from the Springboks.'

Will Carling, the captain, said: 'You have to forget last Saturday. It bears no relation to what will happen in the second Test.' Even so, the manner of the English triumph in Pretoria struck a crushing psychological blow, and if South Africa can recover from that in one short week it will be an accomplishment as significant as England's was.

To avoid this eventuality, Jack Rowell, the manager, this week set the England players and coaches the task of devising ways to improve on one of English rugby's most illustrious occasions. Strangely, they have come up with a few. 'Our scrummaging could be sharper; the line- out we're going to change a bit. The conditions are going to be different. The ground is soft,' Rowell said.

This is flinty realism, but another win would be the stuff of romance. For Rowell, Best, captain Carling and his cohorts, rugby history beckons. Not bad for a side characterised in one memorable South African headline as 'England: the worst ever'.

----------------------------------------------------------------- SOUTH AFRICA v ENGLAND (at Newlands, Cape Town) ----------------------------------------------------------------- A Joubert . . . . . . . . .Natal 15 P Hull . . . . . . . . Bristol J Small . . . . . . . . . .Natal 14 T Underwood . . . . .Leicester P Muller . . . . . . . . . Natal 13 W Carling . . Harlequins, capt B Venter . . . Orange Free State 12 P de Glanville . . . . . .Bath C Williams . . .Western Province 11 R Underwood . . . . .Leicester H le Roux . . . . . . .Transvaal 10 R Andrew . . . . . . . . Wasps J Roux . . . . . . . . Transvaal 9 D Morris . . . . . . . .Orrell B Swart . . . . . . . .Transvaal 1 J Leonard . . . . . Harlequins J Allan . . . . . . . . . .Natal 2 B Moore . . . . . . Harlequins J le Roux . . . . . . .Transvaal 3 V Ubogu . . . . . . . . . Bath S Atherton . . . . . . . . Natal 4 M Bayfield . . . . Northampton M Andrews . . . . . . . . .Natal 5 N Redman . . . . . . . . .Bath F Pienaar . . . .Transvaal, capt 6 T Rodber . . . . . Northampton A Richter . . Northern Transvaal 8 B Clarke . . . . . . . . .Bath I Macdonald . . . . . .Transvaal 7 S Ojomoh . . . . . . . . .Bath ----------------------------------------------------------------- Replacements: 16 J Claassens Replacements: 16 M Catt (Bath), (Northern Transvaal), 17 L Sherrell 17 S Barnes (Bath), 18 S Bates (Northern Transvaal), 18 J van der (Wasps), Westhuizen (Northern Transvaal), 19 J Mallett (Bath), 20(G Dawe 19 F van Heerden (Western Province), (Bath), 21 L Dallaglio (Wasps). 20 J Barnard (Northern Transvaal), 21 J Dalton (Transvaal). ----------------------------------------------------------------- Referee: C Hawke (New Zealand). Kick-off: 2.30BST. ITV live. -----------------------------------------------------------------