Cardiff - South Africa have maintained their winning dominance over Wales on Saturday with a brutal 24-15 (half-time 17-12) victory based on a suffocating blanket defence and an unerring knack of doing the basics well.
As it happened: Wales v SA
The Springboks scored three tries through captain Jean de Villiers, Bismarck
du Plessis and Fourie du Preez, flyhalf Morné Steyn bagging two conversions and
a penalty, and Patrick Lambie also hitting a conversion.
Wales had just five Leigh Halfpenny penalties to their credit, meaning that
under coach Warren Gatland, they have now lost 21 of their 22 Test matches
against southern hemisphere giants New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, the
exception a 21-18 win over Australia in 2008.
Their sole victory over South Africa, in 27 internationals stretching back
107 years, came back in 1999.
The match at the Millennium Stadium was one of attrition, notably in the
first-half when a series of high-impact collisions saw Wales forced into three
replacements and South Africa one.
But for all of Wales' endeavour, they could not breach a Springbok line led
superbly by lock Eben Etzebeth and hooker Du Plessis, the pair also
instrumental in their side's effective driving maul and disruptive lineout
An electric start after an emotional rendition of the Last Post in mark of
Monday's Armistice Day saw Wales centre Jonathan Davies burst through four
A Springbok infringement at the proceeding ruck gifted Halfpenny an opening
penalty, swiftly levelled by Steyn at the other end.
Halfpenny kicked his second penalty after Davies again scythed through the Bok
midfield in a frantic passage of play, but South Africa responded in
Steyn found Bryan Habana in space in his own 22m area, the Toulon wing
accelerating past Welsh hooker Richard Hibbard and passing inside to Du
Plessis, whose off-load De Villiers juggled before grounding despite Mike
Phillips' desperate tackle.
Wales were forced into two replacements, with Liam Williams and Jonathan
Davies both injured in the build-up to the try, James Hook and Ashley Beck
The visitors spurned two penalties from kickable distances, and the gamble
paid off against a Wales side in disarray, Du Plessis showing great strength to
drive over from a slick lineout move to Duane Vermuelen at the back.
A second Steyn conversion and suddenly it was 17-6 after 18 minutes, the
Springbok flyhalf then also going off injured to be replaced by Willie le Roux,
with fullback Lambie moving to pivot.
Halfpenny clawed back six points with his third and fourth penalties, Wales
dominating possession but unable to maximise their pressure in the danger zone.
With tempers raised, Bath flank Francois Louw saw yellow for driving his
forearm into a prone Hibbard, and Wales threw everything they had at the Boks,
but the visitors' blanket defence held firm until half-time.
The second period started off quite disjointedly, Halfpenny bagging a fifth,
long-range penalty in the 54th minute after prop Gethin Jenkins, outstanding in
the loose, forced Bok debutant Frans Malherbe into collapsing a scrum.
Malherbe was immediately subbed off but Irish referee Alain Rolland had lost
patience and when the next scrum also went down, Jenkins and replacement Coenie
Oosthuizen were sent to the sin-bin, meaning uncontested scrums.
Lambie then scuffed a snatched drop-goal and a penalty attempt as Wales
upped their defence against a rattled Springbok team.
But two old heads currently plying their trade in Japan came to the rescue,
recalled centre Jaque Fourie following up on a brilliant Du Preez clearing
kick, flicking the ball inside to the scrumhalf who scooted under the posts for
a simple try Lambie converted.
Penalties: Leigh Halfpenny (5)
Tries: Jean de Villiers, Bismark du Plessis, Fourie du Preez
Conversions: Morné Steyn (2), Pat Lambie
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 James Hook, 23 Ashley Beck
15 Patrick Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 JJ Engelbrecht, 23 Willie le Roux