Planet Rugby

Wales fall short in Pretoria

14th June 2008 15:42

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Ricky Januarie

Dead Red: Ricky Januarie skips a tackle to score

South Africa secured a two-nil series victory over a spirited Wales thanks to a 37-21 victory in Pretoria on Saturday.

A vastly improved Wales side twice led but were unable to capitalise on either position and ultimately paid the price for their lack of composure.

They will however take great heart from their performance but will be left to rue a slow opening quarter, after which they found themselves trailing 14-3.

The alarm bells would have been ringing when South Africa crossed for their second try in the opening twenty minutes.

At that stage images of cricket scores began to flash through the mind, but it was not to be. Wales snapped out of their lull and took the game to their hosts, and to some effect too.

Having been bullied at the breakdown in the first Test, Wales had a point to prove, and they did just that by taking the game to their hosts in a controlled and physical manner.

The breakdown, South Africa's by right last week, was evenly contested, and Jonathan Thomas had a sterling game at openside flanker, allowing his team cleaner ball to attack with.

But for an early penalty from Stephen Jones, Wales struggled to contain their hosts in the opening twenty minutes, seemingly just hanging on.

It didn't take the Springboks long to cross for their first try, a five-metre driving maul was grinding to a halt inches short of the line when Jean de Villiers pounced to set South Africa on their way.

A second try after just 18 minutes, scored by Ricky Januarie but created by Victor Matfield's deft handling, and Wales were looking tired and facing the prospect of another hammering, yet they managed to muster a rousing effort to haul themselves back into the game.

They hit back almost immediately, a clever line-out move freeing Gareth Cooper down the flank, who stepped inside a despairing Tonderai Chavanga to restore Welsh belief.

With Jones adding the extras Wales were back in the game, and what's more they took the lead after half an hour, thanks to Shane Williams's stunning solo-try.

A loose ball was gathered on the half way line before Williams skipped past John Smit and set off for the line. With space running out and four defenders covering, the game seemed up.

That was before some scintillating footwork turned the defenders inside-out and afforded Williams the half of yard of space he needed to waltz over in the corner.

Sadly for Wales they were unable to build on their lead, and a late Butch James penalty ensured South Africa went into the break with their noses in front.

The break did Wales the world of good, as they came out with an intensity not seen thus far on their tour and again they managed to take the lead.

Two penalties from Jones trumping James's single effort at goal. A one-point lead and Wales were twenty minutes from creating history.

That was until their poor discipline cost them dear, James kicking his side back into the lead before a series of quick tap penalties lead to De Villiers' second try, and at that stage Wales were high and dry. They did have a chance to narrow the gap but Jones pushed his effort wide, and with that Wales knew the game was up.

To make matters worse Bismarck du Plessis crossed for a try as the hooter sounded, adding salt to the Welsh wounds and giving the final score a slightly skew look.

That said, one thing is for certain, their performance here will have defiantly earned them the respect they came here hunting.

They were much improved from the first Test and proved that they can compete with the world's best. It leaves one thinking how different it will be in November when Wales have a full squad and home advantage.

But, again, Peter de Villiers's side showed their class and clear potential to develop into one of the great Springbok teams.

Whilst Wales leave without a win on tour they do so safe in the knowledge that, in at least one of the Tests, they gave the Springboks a good run for their money.

No games won but plenty of respect earned for the manner in which they rose to the challenge here in Pretoria.

Man of the Match: Hats off to Wales for bouncing back in fine fashion. Jamie Roberts was solid at inside centre, Gareth Cooper had a much better game at nine and the pack competed in every facet of the game. For South Africa, Victor Matfield was hugely impressive, as was Juan Smith. But we are going with Jean de Villiers, not just for his two scores but for an outstanding display of rugby both in attack and defence. Always looking to create something, he was a constant thorn in the Welsh side.

Moment of the Match: Call us old romantics but it has to be Shane Williams's try. The Boks were reminded of his danger last week when he raced over, and again he produced a stunning solo effort. Gathering the ball on half way he skipped past the despairing clutches of John Smit before turning four defenders inside-out to race over in the corner. A magical score.

Villain of the Match: Whilst it was physical, both teams were focused on playing rugby, and a fine job they did too.

The scorers:

For South Africa:

Tries: De Villiers 2, Januarie, Du Plessis

Cons: James 4

Pens: James 3

For Wales:

Tries: Cooper, S.Williams

Con: S.Jones

Pens: S.Jones 3

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavanga, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Butch James, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Luke Watson, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Francois Steyn, 22 Percy Montgomery.

Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 Mark Jones, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Jonathan Thomas, 6 Ryan Jones (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Rhys Thomas, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Ian Evans, 19 Dafydd Jones, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Andrew Bishop, 22 Tom James.

Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)

Touch judges: Dave Pearson (England), Stuart Terheege (England)

Television match official: Geoff Warren (England)

Assessor: Patrick Robin (France)

By Marcus Leach in Pretoria

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