England Under-20s, with three Leicester Tigers players in the squad, were beaten 26-12 by the Junior Springboks at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium on Friday evening.
Captained by Tigers scrum-half Ben White and with clubmates Joe Heyes and Sam Lewis also in the squad, England trailed 14-7 at the break with South Africa scoring converted tries through David Kriel and Rewan Kruger while Ben Loader went over in response with James Grayson kicking the extras.
Tries from Rewan Kruger and Rikus Pretorius either side of Henry Walker's try sealed victory for the visitors.
The fixture was arranged as preparation ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship in France which begin on May 30.
England head coach Steve Bates said: “It’s always disappointing to lose an international but we knew it was going to be a chance for us to try different combinations, give players a first taste of under-20 rugby and we have to take those things into consideration as well as the positives from the fixture.
“South Africa were very physical, they played well in the first half and drove the lineout well but when we solved that problem we gave a good account of ourselves. They scored a late intercept try so we have to be too careful not to judge things solely on the scoreline.
“This will be far more useful for us than having a 50-point victory over lesser opposition. This will stand us in good stead heading into the World Rugby Under-20 Championship and will also be useful for us to refer back to when we go to France."
15 Tom Parton (London Irish), 14 Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby), 13 Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors), 12 Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), 11 Ben Loader (London Irish), 10 James Grayson (Northampton Saints), 9 Ben White (Leicester Tigers)(c); 1 Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), 2 Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), 3 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), 4 Joel Kpoku (Saracens), 5 James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 6 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), 7 Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby), 8 Tom Willis (Wasps).
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), 17 Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints), 18 Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints), 19 Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), 20 Josh Basham (London Irish), 21 Rory Brand (London Irish), 22 Sam Morley (Exeter Chiefs), 23 Luke James (Sale Sharks)