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Wales suffer thumping defeat in World Cup send off against South Africa

19 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Wales’ Tomos Williams clears under pressure by South Africa’s Pieter-Steph du Toit Photo David Davies PA Images

World champions South Africa delivered a ruthless display that bristled with pace and power to demolish Wales 52-16 at the Principality Stadium.

An inexperienced Wales line-up contained a total of only 235 caps and the Springboks showed no mercy as they cruised to a record victory over their opponents in Cardiff.

Wales’ final World Cup warm-up Test – head coach Warren Gatland will name his 33-strong squad for the tournament on Monday – proved a horribly one-sided affair.

It was the first time in either of Gatland’s reigns as head coach that Wales had conceded 50 or more points.

Centre Jesse Kriel and wing Canan Moodie each scored two tries, while hooker Malcolm Marx, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and replacement Damian Willemse also touched down, with South Africa’s tally completed by a penalty try and five Manie Libbok conversions.


Wales managed three Sam Costelow penalties, a Sam Parry try and Cai Evans conversion in reply, yet they predictably had no answer to a South African side that will complete World Cup preparations by tackling fellow southern hemisphere heavyweights New Zealand at Twickenham next Friday.

For Wales’ players, though, the focus is on selection events on Monday and a World Cup opener against Fiji in Bordeaux on September 10.

South Africa were quickly into their stride and went ahead after just four minutes through an outstanding team try.

Patient build-up play saw them gradually make ground and when full-back Willie Le Roux went wide, he found captain Siya Kolisi in support whose pass sent Marx over in the corner.

Wales responded through a 35-metre Costelow penalty, but there were immediate signs of set-piece authority from South Africa as their scrum initially dominated through powerful work from props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.

A second Costelow penalty nudged Wales ahead, yet the lead lasted barely two minutes as South Africa created another impressive try.

Lock RG Snyman was the creator, surging clear in midfield before support from scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse and Marx carved open Wales’ defence and Le Roux’s long floated pass found Moodie, who finished impressively.

Costelow completed a penalty hat-trick 15 minutes before the interval, only for South Africa to stretch away with a 12-point burst inside two minutes.


There was a huge element of fortune about them being awarded a 34th-minute penalty try when Wales wing Rio Dyer was adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball out of play from behind his own line under pressure from Moodie.

Le Roux’s chip into the corner was directed towards Moodie and batted away by Dyer. Referee Andrew Brace felt that Moodie had run past the ball, but after prolonged video review with television match official Joy Neville, Dyer was yellow carded and a penalty try awarded.

And before Wales could recover, South Africa struck again when centre Damian de Allende kicked deep into the opposition 22, home centre Mason Grady chased back, but under pressure from Springboks wing Cheslin Kolbe he threw the ball into the air behind his own line and Kriel touched down.

From being three points adrift and very much in contention, Wales trooped off 24-9 adrift at half-time and with a mountain to climb.

And any realistic hopes of a fightback were extinguished 12 minutes after the restart when South Africa claimed a breakaway try.

It looked promising for Wales deep inside South Africa’s 22, but scrum-half Kieran Hardy saw his pass intercepted by Du Toit and a supporting Kriel sprinted 60 metres to score, with Libbok converting.

Du Toit then got in on the scoring act, touching down from close range, before Moodie intercepted Wales centre Johnny Williams’ pass to claim try number seven.

Willemse then pounced before he received a yellow card for a high tackle on Dyer then Wales claimed a consolation try nine minutes from time through Parry.

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10 months ago

Then I guess the rankings really don’t lie! The most embarrassing Cymru performance I have ever seen. I’ve never been embarrassed to be from Wales in my life, until now. We truly are the laughing stock of World Rugby.

10 months ago
Reply to  Riki

The rankings make a mockery of World Rugby’s insistance that the World cup draw takes place 3 years in advance. As much as I want Wales to do well we don’t deserve a top seed & neither does England for that matter.

10 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I get the rankings, however I think not respecting history by saying it shouldn’t play a part, to some degree in the rankings is a joke. What’s the point in keeping records at all if they don’t play a part. No way should Ireland be World number one as Wales have been further in the last three world cups and won more six nations in that period. Scotland hasn’t even won a tournament since 1999 and they are ranked higher. What a joke!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
10 months ago

Sorry, but I’ve got to say this and it hurts like hell. Wales were absolutely gutless today. Their performance was worse than last week, and that was bad enough. Where we go from here I don’t know? .I’m aware Warren Gatland is already regretting taking the Waes job, and how those so-called professional Wales players can look at themselves in the mirror when they play like pensioners only rubs our noses into the dirt. The rugby world is laughing at us, a once fierce rugby nation with players known all around the world for their skill, toughness and X-factor is… Read more »

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