Not even a fine fightback could prevent the Springboks from going down 24-22 to a weakened outfit Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
It was the Welsh’s – who lead 21-10 at the break – third straight win over the Boks at home.
Two crucial handling errors by replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies in the last 10 minutes cost the Boks dearly in their quest to seal a comeback while their poor handling under the aerial kicks was a major handicap throughout.
That said South Africa’s scrum was their biggest weapon again but there was perhaps an over-reliance on it.
The Boks fought back bravely after being down 21-3 deep inside the opening half and took the lead for the first time in the game when centre Jesse Kriel bulldozed his way over for his team’s third try in the 55th minute for a tender 22-21 lead.
However, Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny booted a crucial penalty in the 68th minute to give the home side the two-point cushion.
Who was the star in this match?
Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes, a former Blues and Kings player, made his debut and actually only qualified on Friday for his adopted country. He made full use of this golden opportunity by scoring two of his team’s three tries in that crucial first half, showing fine all-round skills.
Key moments and themes
- The Boks were exposed as early as the fifth minute when Welsh flyhalf Dan Biggar landed a perfect cross-kick for right wing Hallam Amos to collect and centre Scott Williams to score for the opening try of the game. It was the first instance of their rather chaotic defensive system on the night.
- South Africa hadn’t even recovered from that blow when Parkes went over for his first try after a chip by Biggar had the Boks scrambling with four Bok defenders looking at each other and not taking any responsibility.
- Wales third try – and Parkes’ second – came after Bok fullback Andries Coetzee’s kick was charged down. It was a piece of play that reflected badly on Coetzee’s tactical awareness. More troubled followed with captain Eben Etzebeth going off injured with a shoulder injury just before the break. Flank Oupa Mohoje had to replace him and Pieter-Steph du Toit moved to lock. Siya Kolisi took over the leadership.
- The Boks started their resurgence with a try by Gelant is his first start just before the break, while flyhalf Handre Pollard’s try five minutes after the restart saw the Boks closing the gap to 21-15. But it was centre Jesse Kriel’s try in the 55th minute which saw the Boks taking the lead. It showed their ability to create but it just doesn’t happen often enough.
Wales – Tries: Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes (2). Conversions: Leigh Halfpenny (3). Penalty: Halfpenny.
South Africa – Tries: Warrick Gelant, Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel. Conversions: Pollard (2). Penalty: Pollard