England’s hopes of an historic series victory in South Africa were ended by a 23-12 defeat in the second Test in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Leicester Tigers wing Jonny May was a tryscorer as the visitors led 12-0 early on – after scoring twice in the first Test at Ellis Park – but the Springboks came back to lead by a point at half-time and kept their line intact throughout the second period to take an unassailable two-nil lead in the series.
England took the lead as Ford and May got the ball through their hands after a carry from Billy Vunipola for Mike Brown to score and Owen Farrell added the conversion.
And just moments later May showed his pace on the flank and proved unstoppable as he cut inside to add another try.
The Springboks were quickly back into the game, using their forwards to pressurise England who conceded a number of penalties close to their own tryline before back-rower Duane Vermeulen provided a breakthrough score.
A penalty from Handre Pollard cut the deficit to two points on the half-hour and he then landed a long-range kick to take a 13-12 lead just 90 seconds before half-time.
Fly-half Ford got the second half under way, but South Africa were quickly back on the attack and were awarded a penalty try when their forwards surged for the line to stretch the lead to eight points.
Brad Shields, in his first start for England, pushed his way over but was denied a try as he lost control in the act of trying to touch down and, instead, the Boks added to their lead with another Pollard penalty entering the last 15 minutes.
Danny Cipriani replaced Ford as the game restarted but England then lost back-rower Nathan Hughes to a yellow card after handling the ball at a ruck.
Pollard missed a kick at goal when he could have put the home team two converted scores in front with time running out, but there was still no way back for England.