Dylan Hartley confident England can test South Africa

 

England hooker Dylan Hartley claims South Africa's forwards now know they are in for a ferocious battle in next weekend's second Test in Johannesburg.

The tourists may have been limited in attack in the series-opening 22-17 loss in Durban on Saturday but Hartley believes they created a strong impression on their opponents.

The 26-year-old said: "I think we put down a statement and I would like to think they will have a bit more respect for us next week. We definitely met the physical challenge.

"All I have heard about from them is about how physical they are, and from the locals saying, 'Are you ready to get a hiding?'

"I am happy that we fronted up. They look at our set-piece and respect that and I am really happy we got off the line in defence and hunted their big runners and we met them head on.

"We have shown we can do it, we should have won.

"The way we finished the game is a huge positive - if we hadn't have given away a cheap penalty it could have been a draw - I am definitely confident and the lads are that we can go to Johannesburg next week and win."

The England squad flew to the capital with spirits largely undamaged, injuries to Mike Brown and Brad Barritt notwithstanding, after their battling display at Kings Park.

Even after deserved second-half tries from Morne Steyn and Jean de Villiers swung a tight game the Springboks' way, England fought on and claimed a late consolation score from Ben Foden.

Hartley said: "We played our best rugby (at the end). It is a statement that we are not going away.

"We will look at that and it is positive going into next week. We played our best attacking rugby in the last 10 minutes.

"The lads were saying to each other, 'We'll get them next week', so we have proved to ourselves the game was there for the taking and we can beat these guys."

The challenge is expected to get tougher as the series moves from sea level of Durban to the Highveld.

The Springboks' limited preparation after only coming together as a squad a week ago will also no longer be a factor.

Hartley said: "We didn't come down to South Africa saying we were going to win every game - for this team taking a step forward is to pick up a result out here.

"That is a big old scalp. We are going into their lair in Jo'burg and there isn't a better place to go and do it."

PA

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