Springboks shake off rust as debutant shines in convincing victory over Wales

Planet Rugby
Springboks team photo with Qatar Airways Cup.

Springboks team photo with Qatar Airways Cup.

The Springboks kicked off their mid-year international campaign with a 41-13 victory over Warren Gatland’s under-strength Wales at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday.

Tries from Jesse Kriel, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi and Edwill van der Merwe were added to by a penalty try as South Africa sealed the win in the London sunshine.

Captain Dewi Lake would grab Wales‘ only try of the game as they fought admirably but ultimately were well beaten as the world champions pulled clear late on in the fixture.

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Player of the match Van der Merwe shone on debut for the Springboks and added the gloss on an impressive individual performance with a solo try late on at Twickenham.

Wales’ list of absentees – players either injured, unavailable or rested – ran comfortably into double figures and they were widely expected to suffer a crushing defeat.

But they trailed only 14-13 at half-time following a try for hooker Lake, with fly-half Sam Costelow adding two penalties and a conversion.

The Springboks, who are building for a two-Test series against fellow heavyweights Ireland in July, often struggled to impose themselves on a first outing since retaining the World Cup eight months ago.

South Africa ultimately scored 27 second-half points without reply, yet Wales will take a considerable amount of confidence with them on tour to Australia despite suffering a seventh successive defeat since beating World Cup pool opponents Georgia.

Jordan Hendrikse missed an early penalty chance for South Africa but the Springboks went ahead after just four minutes when they shredded Wales’ defence through a sweeping attack.

Mapimpi broke clear after collecting full-back Aphelele Fassi’s pass, and supporting centre Kriel was afforded a simple finish, before Hendrikse converted for a 7-0 lead.

Costelow opened Wales’ account through a seventh-minute penalty but they were soon on the back-foot again following Springboks number eight Evan Roos’ midfield surge, with wing Rio Dyer being yellow-carded for a technical infringement.

South Africa then attacked from a close-range lineout and referee Chris Busby awarded them a penalty try after Wales forward Aaron Wainwright illegally pulled down a maul. Wainwright was sin-binned and South Africa had an 11-point advantage.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Wales should have scored early in the second quarter after Liam Williams intercepted Hendrikse’s pass, but scrum-half Ellis Bevan couldn’t gather the ball from centre Mason Grady and a glorious chance went astray.

Wales did not have to wait much longer, though, to cut the deficit after Fassi was yellow-carded when his boot caught flanker Taine Plumtree in the face.

South Africa could not clear danger from a lineout inside their own 22 and Lake pounced for a score that Costelow converted, making it 14-10.

It was an impressive recovery by Wales and their fightback continued six minutes before half-time when another Costelow penalty meant that South Africa led by just a point.

Wales lost prop Keiron Assiratti with an injury on the stroke of half-time – he was replaced by Harri O’Connor – yet his team had defied pre-match odds at the halfway point.

South Africa struck within two minutes of the second-half starting and it was a simple try as they simply out-flanked Wales’ defence and Mapimpi had a straightforward run-in, with Hendrikse converting from the touchline.

Hendrikse kicked a long-range penalty to extend South Africa’s advantage, then his replacement Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu bisected Wales’ posts from inside his own half, and Wales trailed by 14 points.

The quality of South Africa’s bench began to take its toll, and Wales were powerless to prevent Mbonambi crashing over from close range as the Springboks moved past 30 points, then Van der Merwe broke clear five minutes from time.

The teams

South Africa: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (c), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 23 Damian de Allende

Wales: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Mason Grady, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 James Botham, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Gareth Thomas
Replacements: 16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 James Ratti, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Eddie James, 23 Jacob Beetham

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Adam Leal (England)
TMO: Mark Patton (Ireland)

READ MORE: The complete June-July fixture list including dates, venues and match officials