Marcus Smith was the hero of Twickenham after kicking a last-gasp penalty to beat world champions South Africa.
Two years after being crushed by the Boks in the World Cup final, England turned the tables on their Yokohama conquerors in dramatic style.
They scored three tries to one and, despite conceding a mountain of penalties, stayed in the contest long enough to allow Smith to emerge as the match winner.
Twickenham exploded with sound as the final whistle shrilled to signal an unbeaten autumn for Eddie Jones’ men and leave the tourists shell-shocked.
In truth they could have few complaints, even if Siya Kolisi’s late yellow card appeared harsh.
They overhauled an early 14-3 deficit and led with less than a minute on the clock. But discipline ultimately cost them.
By the end England were almost too tired to remember the first half hour in which they were peerless, living out their dreams inside a delirious Twickenham.
They bossed the set-piece, South Africa’s pride and joy, made metres in the back field and scored two excellent tries.
The first came after cute play from Kyle Sinckler ambushed the Boks at the first scrum in only the fifth minute. Maro Itoje then won a line-out at the front and Marcus Smith and Henry Slade put Manu Tuilagi over in the left corner.
Tuilagi was injured in the act of scoring but England maintained their momentum; Slade replacing Smith at first receiver, using Smith as a decoy and firing out a peach of a pass to Max Malins
Tuilagi’s replacement made ground and, when Makazole Mapimpi brought him to ground, Ben Youngs picked out Freddie Steward for his second try in two matches.
The crowd sung loud and proud as the world champions sucked in air and wondered whether payback for their World Cup triumph had finally arrived.
You don’t become champions of the world however without a backbone and the Boks got hold of the physicality dial and cranked it up to 10.
England started to struggle in the face of the power game, getting knocked back in tackles and coughing up penalties.
You don’t want to do that against a side with Handre Pollard kicking the goals and sure enough the fly-half quickly amassed 12 points and the margin was down to five points.
Half time came and went and South Africa turned to their Bomb Squad set of replacements to add to England’s discomfort.
Had Pollard not uncharacteristically missed two in quick succession the home side could have been out of it by the start of the final quarter.
Instead they clung on and then just past the hour mark shocked the Boks by breaking from a lineout.
Slade put Joe Marchant through a hole, the winger drew the fullback and slipped the scoring pass to replacement scrum-half Raffi Quirke.
South Africa fired straight back, Elton Jantjies and Lukhanyo Am releasing Mapimpi in the right corner. But the missed conversion kept England a point in front.
It was but a moment of respite as Franz Steyn came off the bench to kick the Boks back in front as England failed to cope with Will Stuart in the bin.
Surely that was that, but England wouldn’t roll over. And when Smith attacked again Steyn was penalised for dropping a knee on him and the fly-half got up to win the match.
England – Tries: Tuilagi, Steward, Quirke. Cons: Smith 3. Pens: Smith 2.
South Africa – Try: Mapimpi. Pens: Pollard 5, Jantjies, Steyn.
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