Second cap for Johnson as Boks seal the series
EXETER Chiefs star Tom Johnson won his second cap for England but could not help them avoid a 36-27 defeat to South Africa on Saturday in Johannesburg.
This latest setback, combined with the 22-17 loss a week earlier in which the Chiefs flanker made his debut, means Stuart Lancaster's men lose the three-match series.
But it was not all doom and gloom for England, who showed great spirit by fighting back from a 25-10 deficit to bring it back to respectable margin.
The Chiefs' 29-year-old flanker played the full 80 minutes but could do little to prevent a brutal first-half onslaught for the hosts.
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The likes of Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Hougaard all crossed over for first-half tries, while Morne Steyn kicked two conversions and a drop goal.
Toby Flood responded with a try, a conversion and a penalty, but Steyn kicked another at the start of the second period to leave the hosts in control.
Flood then converted Ben Youngs' opportunistic score to reduce the deficit, and despite another Steyn penalty, Youngs grabbed his second – again converted by Flood – to leave the comeback very much on for England.
Another penalty from Flood raised the visitors' hopes even further and left it particularly tense at 31-27 with 15 minutes to go.
But England's hopes were dashed by a super solo effort from veteran winger JP Pietersen to hand the win, and the series, to the Boks with one game to go.
Exeter flanker Johnson will be hoping to keep his place in the side for England's final match of the series, which is being played on Saturday (4pm) in Port Elizabeth.
England hooker Dylan Hartley will captain the side for the first time in his career after skipper Chris Robshaw was ruled out with a cracked thumb.
England will take on the South Africa Barbarians North on Tuesday (6.10pm) before then.