South Africa went into this match desperate to end their Spring tour on a positive after suffering their first ever loss to Italy last weekend, coach Coetzee making seven changes to the side and running with a very inexperienced backline. Wales still had something to prove after disappointing performances in their previous matches.
The Springboks were the first to get on the score board after Wales were penalised for collapsing in the scrum in the 6th minute. Elton Jantjies slotted the penalty to take an early lead. However it only took Wales 5 minutes to join them on the score board after Ruan Combrinck was penalised, perhaps questionably. Combrinck appeared to go for an intercept, making a play at the ball but referee Romain Poite said he had no chance to catch it, therefore he was penalised for a deliberate knock on, giving Leigh Halfpenny a shot at goal. 3 all after 11 minutes.
The Welsh started to show some good signs on attack, keeping the ball alive for multiple phases and threatening the Springbok defence, working their way towards the line. After 13 phases with ball in hand Ross Moriarty was bundled into touch be the desperate Springbok defence, throwing the ball into a Springbok as he went, giving Wales the lineout throw. South Africa were then penalised in the lineout for playing the man in the air, giving Halfpenny another shot at goal, which he made. 6-3 to Wales.
Just minutes later halfpenny slotted his third shot at goal after Adrian Strauss was penalised for not rolling away. Another penalty just 2 minutes after the restart, this time against Wales’ Ken Owens for lack of arms in the tackle, saw Jantjies grab another 3 points for the Springboks. After 23 minutes the score was Wales (Halfpenny) 9 – South Africa (Jantjies) 6.
Wales again looked threatening, but were still unable to break through the line. At the 33 minute mark Halfpenny put yet another 3 points on the board, this time after a Springbok player picked up a knocked on ball from an offside position. 12-6 to Wales.
Neither team troubled the scorers again in the first half.
Half time score, 12 – 6 to Wales.
The commentators described the opening minutes of the second half as “shambolic” for the Springboks, and that was definitely an apt description. Highlighted after just 90 seconds when Francois de Klerk was shown yellow for a deliberate knock down. While he went to the bin, Halfpenny put yet another 3 points on the board, scoring his 5th penalty of the match making it 15-6.
Less than 2 minutes later the Boks were again penalised for a player picking up the ball from an offside position after a knock on. This time the Welsh went for the line, a decision that paid dividends as the drive from the resulting line out led to the first try of the match, Ken Owens breaking off the put the ball over the line. Halfpenny missed with the conversion.
Down 20-6 and the Springboks were warned about being too slow getting back into position for restarts, scrums and lineouts. On the very next lineout the Boks forwards walked very slowly to the line, frustrating the Welsh. This seemed to epitomise the South African attitude, down by 14 and no urgency or enthusiasm.
The Springboks finally seemed to find something in attack, forcing their way towards the line, but were again let down by handling errors, giving Wales the scrum feed 5 metres out from their own line. South Africa went hard in the scrum and forced a penalty. Under advantage the Boks sent the ball wide. It was looking like a good scoring opportunity until Lionel Mapoe dropped the ball, so they were called back for the penalty. Electing to go for the lineout, the Springboks forwards finally drove over the line, Uzair Cassiem scoring the South Africans only try of the match. Replacement fly half, Patrick Lambie added the extras making it 20-7.
In the 76th minute Justin Tipuric ended any thoughts of a South African comeback when he ran a lovely line, easily stepped through 2 defenders and scored the final try of the match. Halfpenny converted, making the final score 27-13.
The Wrap Up
This match showed yet again just how poor South Africa were. Their attack rarely looked threatening and was punctuated with individual errors. Knock ons and forward passes were commonplace amongst their attack. They were playing a game plan that just wasn’t working, players were simply running at the line trying to barge through the defence. Unfortunately this often resulted in players wither being held up or turned over, as there was often no support for the ball runner. Expect calls for Coetzee’s head to come louder than ever.
But as poor as South Africa were, Wales struggled to get over the line themselves, which is a worrying sign given their previous poor performances. They definitely have some improving to do before the 6 Nations next year.
Finally on a positive note for South African supporters … the season is over and as one commenter pointed out it will be 7 months before you have to watch the Springboks play again.
The Game Changer
There really wasn’t one definite point in the game where it swung one way or the other. It was pretty apparent from the outset that Wales were going to win, even when the Boks were within 7.
Man Of The Match
Justin Tipuric. He was a real pest at the breakdown, when he wasn’t turning the ball over he was there putting pressure on the Springboks. His lovely try at the end topped off a great game.
Tries: K Owens, J Tipuric
Conversions: L Halfpenny (1)
Penalties: L Halfpenny (5)
Try: U Cassiem
Conversion: P Lambie
Penalties: E Jantjies (2)