England vs South Africa: Owen Farrell and George Ford to pick up where they left off after losing twice in five years for England

Ford starred for England's youth teams with Farrell at inside-centre, and the pair tasted defeat just twice when playing together

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The Independent Online

England could look to reunite Owen Farrell and George Ford in midfield in a bid to get their autumn internationals back on track following the opening weekend defeat to New Zealand.

Farrell started the 24-21 loss to the All Blacks at fly-half, but finished the match at inside centre after Ford was brought on for Kyle Eastmond as England seeked to find a way back into the game having led at half-time.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster revealed that the coaching staff and playing squad have held a full debrief into what went wrong in the second half of Saturday’s match at Twickenham, where England shipped 13 points after the break without reply which effectively sealed the win for the world champions.

While Saturday represented the first time the Ford-Farrell combination had been used by Lancaster, it’s far from the first time that the two evolving fly-halves have played together.


The two lost just twice in five years when Ford started at 10 and Farrell at 12 for England’s younger age groups, and with Eastmond suffering from a virus, Ford could find himself thrown in at the deep end against the Springboks this Saturday.

Lancaster is already unable to call on the services of Northampton Saints centre Luther Burrell, who would have been the likely candidate to fill the 12 shirt after impressing during the Six Nations and on Premiership duty with his club.

Farrell watches on as Ford passes the ball at Twickenham

The loss of Eastmond, should he fail to recover, would only add to the injury crisis England find themselves in, and it could see a recall for Billy Twelvetrees despite being dropped from the squad that will face Samoa and Australia after this weekend’s clash.

Lancaster has hinted at changes to his side, especially at half-back given England’s struggles to kick themselves out of their own territory for large periods of the second half.

“We have to be careful not to make too many changes going into this weekend,” said Lancaster. “We have to give the players a second chance but, having said that, one of the reasons we brought George Ford and Ben Youngs on [against the All Blacks] was to improve our ability to exit our own half. Some of our kicking from nine, particularly, and also 10 wasn’t quite good enough. The combination [of Ford and Farrell] is something we have looked at, did look at, and will look at in the future, without a doubt.”

History is also against England heading into the match. In their last 11 attempts which stretches back to November 2006, England have lost 10 matches and are yet to taste success, given the only glimmer of hope came in the 14-14 draw in Port Elizabeth in June 2012.