ENGLAND Women suffered a six-wicket loss to South Africa in front of more than 2,600 fans in Taunton on Saturday afternoon, as Lizelle Lee (68) and Sune Luus (63no) fired the Proteas to victory.

Tammy Beaumont had continued her fine form with 71 in the day, but despite Somerset's Anya Shrubsole taking two wickets, South Africa won with three balls to spare.

England won Wednesday's meeting between the two sides by 121 runs, with Beaumont hitting 116 in her side's world record score of 250-3.

But they were off to a poor start today, as Danni Wyatt skied Raisibe Ntozakhe (1-20 off four) to point, where she was caught by Mignon du Preez to leave her side 2-1 in the very first over.

Beaumont was joined by Sarah Taylor, who got England moving with two successive boundaries.

The pair were combining well, with both finding the boundary well to reach 37-1 from five overs, but then Taylor fell for 20, again caught at point by du Preez, this time off the bowling of Shabnim Ismail.

It was tough going for England, with South Africa clearly improved with the ball from their two defeats on Wednesday, and the runs much harder to come by.

Nat Sciver survived a dropped catch from du Preez as England reached 66-2 at the halfway mark, with Beaumont on 26 and Sciver 15.

A lovely scoop for four helped Beaumont continue to build her innings, but that was soon followed by Sciver being caught on the boundary for 16, Masabata Klaas jumping to take the catch off Zintle Mali.

Katherine Brunt was off the mark with a driven four, followed by another Beaumont scoop, only for Brunt to swing and miss - wicketkeeper Lee with the stumping to give Mali (2-39 off four) her second wicket.

That brought England and Western Storm captain Heather Knight to the crease, though it was Beaumont who brought up the England 100 off the final ball of the 15th over, as well as her 50 from 47 balls.

Now the pair began to accelerate, with more aggressive hitting and boundaries, reaching 122-4 by the end of the 17th over and 131-4 after the 18th.

Knight helped herself to a couple more fours, only for Beaumont to fall for a superb 71 (off 59 balls, with eight 4s) as she lost her stumps to Ismail (2-27 off four).

But that wasn't going to stop Knight, finishing strongly to post an unbeaten 35 (26 balls, with six 4s), as England ended their 20 overs on 160-5.

Lee began on the front foot, with a four off the first ball of the reply - but Somerset bowler Shrubsole gained a measure of revenge by clean bowling Laura Wolvaardt for a duck.

Lee smashed the first six of the day off Brunt's first delivery, and England looked less sharp in the field, as the Proteas made their way to 39-1 off five overs - helped by another maximum, this time from Luus.

Another big six followed from Lee, as the pair began making short work of the England attack with much more fluent shot-making.

The home side were not helped by a couple of dropped catches, the latter from Beaumont, as their opponents raced to 60-1 off seven overs.

An expensive ninth over - Lee hitting Sophie Ecclestone for another six, this one almost reaching the Ondaatje Pavilion - helped South Africa onto 75-1, and that became 84-1 at halfway.

A fourth six from Lee was followed by another drop on the boundary, as England felt the match slipping away from them.

Lee wasn't so much motoring as entering hyperspace now, but her destructive spell of 68 off 37 balls (four 4s and six 6s) was ended when England finally held onto a catch - Sciver doing the honours to hand Shrubsole (2-24 off four overs) her second wicket.

Still the Proteas had the advantage, at 109-2 in the 13th over, and their captain Dane van Niekerk was up and running.

They reached 126-2 from 15 overs, leaving five overs to score the 35 required to win.

A more controlled over from Brunt followed, only two runs being conceded, only for Van Niekerk to get the chase back on track with 13 runs off Jenny Gunn's over.

She fell to the next ball, though, stumped by Taylor off Ecclestone for 25, leaving her side on 141-3.

Ecclestone then bowled Chloe Tryon (1) later in the over, bringing du Preez in at 143-4 with two overs left.

Du Preez struck a four past bowler Shrubsole, before Sciver dropped her off the next ball and narrowly missed running her out.

South Africa were on 152-4 going into the final over, needing nine more to win, and 22-year-old Luus brought up her 50 (50 balls) with four off the first ball, and struck a second successive boundary to bring her side to within touching distance.

She saved the best for last, knocking Brunt for six into the Somerset Stand, to finish with 63 and bring her side victory by six wickets, with three balls to spare.

England don't have much time to dwell on the defeat, however, as they face New Zealand from 5.40pm.

Afterwards, Tammy Beaumont said: "We know that we didn't bowl our best today, and managed to punch out a score, though maybe we could have got a few more if we'd gone harder up front.

"We were a bit sloppy in the field, dropped a few catches, but the nice thing is we've got no time to think about it, we've got to get on and perform this afternoon.

"I've got some career bests for myself here [Taunton], so I obviously like playing here, and we get good crowds to support us."