Planet Rugby

Springboks edge Wales in thriller

11th September 2011 07:57

Share:

Francois Hougaard just before scoring South Africa Wales

Bok delight: Francois Hougaard en route to the winning try

Defending champions South Africa were made to work extremely hard for a 17-16 win over Wales in a thrilling encounter in Wellington on Sunday.

Trailing 16-10 with fifteen minutes left, the Springboks had to dig deep to produce a try for replacement wing Francois Hougaard and clinch a hard-fought victory by the skin of their teeth.

Fiji still top Pool D on five points, but South Africa will now expect to win the "Group of Death."

After going behind in the early stages (South Africa led 10-6 at the break) Wales produced an outstanding hour of rugby to wrestle the lead back from the pool favourites.

Wales could not complain of a lack of opportunities as they had the lion's share of possession for the majority of the game.

Indeed, much of the pre-game talk centred around the Welsh pack's ability to match their opponents for physicality, but the men in red stood up to the challenge and have every reason to feel bitterly disappointed after coming mighty close to a memorable win.

South Africa looked dangerous in the first twenty minutes, but were outplayed for most of the remainder of the game bar a five-minute spell that produced the winning try.

Once the (mild) victory celebrations are done, the Springboks will also be sweating over the fitness of two key players after Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield were forced off early with rib and hamstring injuries respectively.

South Africa were out of the blocks at a furious pace and took the lead after just three minutes when Frans Steyn scored in the corner. Jaque Fourie's initial break had put the Boks on the front foot before the ball was sent wide to Steyn, who smashed James Hook out the way to remind everyone of who the current world champions are.

After a shaky start, Wales settled down and Hook put them on the scoreboard after Pierre Spies was pinged for going off his feet.

The Welsh looked perplexed when referee Wayne Barnes denied them three more points when he adjudged that Hook's second penalty attempt had not crept inside the upright.

Morne Steyn extended South Africa's lead at the end of the first quarter by adding a penalty to his earlier conversion but Hook replied around the half-hour mark to leave the scores at 10-6. And so it remained until the break.

Wales spent the better part of 20 minutes camped in the Springbok half after the restart, dominating the battle for possession in the tight exchanges and impressing on attack.

Hook narrowed the gap to a single point on 50 minutes before number eight Toby Faletau crashed over at the end of an overlap to give Wales the lead going into the final quarter.

Shocked into action, the Springbok reply wasn't long in coming. Without their core leadership group (John Smit and Matfield were already off) they first made the brave decision to kick for touch rather than at goal from a penalty. True to form, they rumbled forward to open a gap on the side of a ruck through which Hougaard came flying to latch onto Fourie Du Preez's short pass and finish under the sticks.

Morne Steyn's conversion gave the champs a 17-16 lead.

Rhys Priestland missed a late drop and Hook couldn't find the mark with a penalty at the death, handing the Springboks an unconvincing victory.

Man of the match: A mention must go to Springbok openside Heinrich Brüssow, who was a tackling machine. But Wales skipper Sam Warburton was the standout player with a phenomenal display at the breakdown.

Moment of the match: There can only be one: Francois Hougaard's try came at the end of South Africa's only real attack in the second half...one was all they needed.

Villain of the match: If you're Welsh, we know who you would pick, but we're not going down that road.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: F. Steyn, Hougaard
Cons: M. Steyn 2
Pen: M. Steyn

For Wales:
Try: Faletau
Con: Hook
Pens: Hook 3

South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Johann Muller, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Butch James.

Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Danny Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Paul James
Replacements:16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Scott Williams, 22 Leigh Halfpenny.

Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)

By Ross Hastie

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs Leicester19:45
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton Treviso17:00
Glasgow vs Ulster19:35
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs Blues19:35
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954