Cardiff - Springboks coach Allister Coetzee will have a tough job holding on to his job after his team again lost on their disastrous tour of Europe, meaning they have failed to win a single game on the northern hemisphere trip.
The Boks’ third defeat to Wales in history – and an unprecedented eighth in 12 games for the Boks in a season – means they will forever be spoken of in the same sniggering tones as Rudolf Straeuli’s 2002 tourists, who lost all four of their matches that year.
Neither the fact that it was captain Adriaan Strauss’ final game for the Boks, nor that it was the introduction of debutants Uzair Cassiem, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jamba Ulengo could help the Boks gain a semblance of a team with ambition and a coherent game plan.
If there was a positive, it was that Cassiem scored from a rolling maul in an industrious introduction to Test rugby.
Besides that and the substitutes breathing life into proceedings, there was precious little to write home about in another confused performance.
In the end, ill-discipline and basic errors proved South Africa’s undoing. Whenever they didn’t have the ball, they conceded a steady stream of penalties in their own territory.
With the deadly Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny around, it was not smart play by the Boks – as his four first-half penalties showed.
Three of those were from brain-dead moments like deliberate knock-ons (two), taking the man out in the air in the line-out, and picking up the ball in front of a team-mate after he had dropped it.
Lock Lood de Jager was a particular culprit, conceding three penalties on his own, two of which led to six points.
The habit of deliberately knocking on also got scrum half Faf de Klerk in the sin-bin, an infringement that cost the Boks eight early second-half points while he was off the field.
And when they weren’t conceding penalties, the Boks were clumsy in their attempts to attack, barely able to string together two phases without almost wilfully spilling the ball.
The often maligned defence stood firm in the first half owing to a combination of things.
The Welsh, whose attack also leaves a lot to be desired, played as if they’d heard the Boks didn’t have the stomach for it in defence.
The system had its chinks, but the desire to put bodies on the line was there.
For all that, when it came to it in the second half, the Boks again dismally failed to defend a rolling maul, which ended up with Welsh hooker Ken Owens scoring to take Wales’ lead to 20-6.
The Boks were much better at the breakdown, where they managed their own ruck ball better by being more efficient at cleaning out, with Beast Mtawarira leading the charge there.
On the Welsh ball, Strauss, Cassiem and Nizaam Carr were at the forefront of slowing things down.
That said, it wasn’t at the breakdown that the Boks were being killed with ball in hand. Rather, their ball-carriers were getting stripped of it when going into contact with alarming regularity.
In a strange way, that’s what the game felt like – bullies taking lunch from the class weaklings.
Wales – Tries: Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric. Conversion: Leigh Halfpenny. Penalties: Halfpenny (5)
SA – Try: Uzair Cassiem. Conversion: Pat Lambie. Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2)
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