South Africa 30-14 Wales as Springbok hosts win the final test
Wales have been beaten 30-14 by South Africa in the third Test in Cape Town to lose the three-match series 2-1.
Wales came into the series with no real expectations after defeat to Italy in the Six Nations, but should have won the first test and did win the second.
Despite a good effort in the third test, South Africa’s replacements won the match for them while Wales had to tolerate a raft of injuries.
But Wales will approach the Autumn Tests with renewed self-belief, with matches against Neew Zealand and Australia who lost their own home three match tours beckoning.
Dan Bigger said that he was “massively proud” of their effort across the third tests after “copping some flak” after the Six Nations.
“In those last 20 minutes they just squeezed us – we had a few chances but against a top team like this you have to take them,” he told Radio Wales.
“We’ve shown that we’re good enough to take on the World Champions in their own back yard.”
Gareth Anscombe – Wales’ second Test matchwinner against South Africa when he kicked a late touchline conversion – missed the series decider in Cape Town because of injury.
The Ospreys fly-half was ruled out due to a rib problem, so Rhys Patchell replaced him on the bench.
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac made one enforced change in the starting line-up, with wing Josh Adams taking over from Alex Cuthbert, who suffered a shoulder injury last weekend and has flown home.
Pivac’s opposite number Jacques Nienaber, meanwhile, recalled eight of the 2019 World Cup-winning team, including captain Siya Kolisi, wing Cheslin Kolbe and centre Damian de Allende, while lock Eben Etzebeth won his 100th cap.
Wales suffered a major late blow when number eight Taulupe Faletau was ruled out after the warm-up.
No details on any injury were announced by the Welsh Rugby Union, but it meant Josh Navidi replacing his Cardiff colleague and Taine Basham joining the replacements.
The loss of such an experienced operator as Faletau would have hit Wales hard, and they almost fell behind in the fourth minute.
Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am kicked into space and wing Makazole Mapimpi gathered before crossing Wales’ line, but replays showed his left foot in touch and the try was rightly ruled out.
Handre Pollard then kicked a short-range penalty, and there was a real intensity about South Africa, with full-back Damian Willemse and De Allende both going close to touching down before relentless pressure was rewarded through a Pollard try that he also converted.
A slippery playing surface made life difficult for both teams, but Wales showed plenty of character and scored from their first attack when flanker Tommy Reffell claimed his first Test try following strong approach work by Adams and George North.
Wales’ penalty count quickly mounted up, conceding eight in the first 25 minutes, yet South Africa only held a 10-5 lead, which seemed scant reward for their territorial dominance.
When Wales had possession, they looked to move it quickly, although both sides lost players with injuries as Kolbe and Wales flanker Dan Lydiate were both forced off.
Biggar kicked a penalty seven minutes before half-time, but South Africa then struck from a close-range lineout, driving Wales defenders backwards before hooker Bongi Mbonambi touched down to mark his 50th cap in style.
Pollard added the conversion, and Wales arrived at the interval facing a 17-8 deficit.
Pivac made two changes for the second period, sending on hooker Dewi Lake and prop Sam Wainwright, and another Biggar penalty cut the gap to six points.
South Africa should have scored a third try shortly afterwards, but scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse’s pass was adjudged forward and Am was denied after breaching Wales’ defence.
Biggar completed his penalty hat-trick after 48 minutes, yet South Africa responded within five minutes through a Kolisi try that Pollard converted, and the Springboks led 24-14.
Wales looked fatigued moving into the final quarter, and Pivac emptied the replacements’ bench as he looked for a way back into the contest.
The tourists continued to have their moments, with Adams running strongly and scrum-half Tomos Williams probing for openings, yet South Africa had enough collective know-how to close out the game.
Two more Pollard penalties gave South Africa a 30-14 victory and secured a 2-1 series triumph, setting themselves up for the Rugby Championship that begins when they host New Zealand in three weeks’ time.
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