They made light of those absences in an impressive first half, though, when centre Damian de Allende proved a powerful and elusive runner as they mixed up their attack to good effect.
"If it was role reversal here and a South African had smashed one of the England players we would be asking for a penalty, but we will take it", admitted former England scrum-half Matt Dawson on BBC Radio 5 live.
Since the June series, the Springboks have recorded a superb 36-34 win away to world champions New Zealand in Wellington, while their last match saw them narrowly lose 32-30 to the All Blacks in a return Rugby Championship fixture in Pretoria last month.
"A good thing is when I was 15 we didn't have iPhones". They didn't have a camera.
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus' response to the Farrell incident was laced with sarcasm. "It was a good, solid tackle".
After a fairytale start to his tenure as England coach, things have gone a bit awry for Jones and a hard autumn schedule against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia could have far-reaching implications as he prepares for the 2019 World Cup.
"It's obviously something that's really effective".
However, Pollard had the chance to win it with a penalty that was further out than Farrell's but more central, however it kissed the right-hand post on its way by - and Jones punched the air with delight at full time.
"Those are the big moments that won us the game", England co-captain Dylan Hartley said. "There was a real show of resistance and there was a lot of toughness in our play and I'm really pleased with the boys". "So we are used to one another, these two teams". Because you guys (the media) want to sack me, is that why? "I did not know how the review was going to go - anything can happen".
England coach Eddie Jones admitted that his side's premature celebrations could have ended in embarrassment as they did not account for the TMO as the match against South Africa at Twickenham ended in controversial fashion.
"You've got to play with those cards now".
Already England's co-captain, tactical general and goalkicker, Jones has now entrusted the Saracen with the creative duties as the countdown to next year's World Cup enters a key phase.
Jones hinted at frustration with the penalties conceded, though, and Maro Itoje was sin-binned early on.
"To beat the New Zealanders you've got to be unbelievably disciplined", he said.
"You've got to understand their weaknesses".
With regular number eight Billy Vunipola injured and Nathan Hughes suspended, Jones had been expected to go for uncapped Zach Mercer, who was instead named among the replacements as tough-tackling Wilson wins his fifth cap and his second start.
"New Zealand is a different kettle of fish to the Springboks". We won't be wearing singlets and running shorts out there.
"It'll be a proper game of rugby. They'll be confident. We can't wait to get 'em".