The Springboks win 30-14 in Cape Town in the third Test
South Africa overpower Wales to win series
It’s hard to know which team will be feeling more positive after this three-Test series.
South Africa sealed a 2-1 series win by overpowering Wales 30-14 in this final Test in Cape Town and were also able to ‘experiment’ with some different combinations in the second Test.
Yet they have been far from convincing across the three matches and there has been criticism of their lack of creativity, with the Springboks kicking game still a big talking point.
Wales defied predictions of a 3-0 defeat by proving competitive in all three Tests and beating the Springboks for the first time in South Africa when they won in Bloemfontein. Yet they ultimately lost the series.
In reality, there are positives for both teams to take. South Africa will be looking to build on the momentum of this series win as they head into the Rugby Championship, with a New Zealand side that has suffered two straight losses to Ireland next up on the fixture list.
Wales bounced back from the disappointment of the Six Nations to prove that they can challenge teams like the Boks. They have added to their depth, demonstrated their resilience in defence and looked to offer more variety in attack, stretching the Boks with their ball movement.
It was certainly not a classic of a Test series, the high penalty counts by both teams meant matches had a very stilted feel.
The physicality was always bruising and at times brutal, with the Welsh players no doubt looking forward to a few weeks off after a long, tiring season. And the Boks simply had too much power in this final Test, particularly when the ‘Bomb Squad’ arrived in the second half.
South Africa overpower Wales to win series
Wales had to deal with a fair bit of disruption on match day. First Gareth Anscombe was ruled out with a rib injury, meaning Rhys Patchell came onto the bench. Then just before kick-off Taulupe Faletau was withdrawn from the starting XV meaning Josh Navidi came in at No 8 and Taine Basham joined the replacements.
And they had a fair bit to deal with in the opening 15 minutes as South Africa came out fired up, and not just because Eben Etzebeth had his name in flames to mark his 100th Test appearance.
The world champions were clearly motivated to close out this Test series after the criticism that followed the defeat in Bloemfontein – Wales first win over the Springboks on South African soil.
Twice they thought they had scored in the first seven minutes. Twice they were denied by the TMO – Makazole Mapimpi had a foot in touch before he crossed and Damian de Allende grounded the ball just short of the line.
Handre Pollard eventually crossed for the Boks’ first try in the 14th minute, the fly-half cutting between Ryan Elias and Dan Lydiate to touch down after a series of pick and goes close to the Welsh line.
His conversion, along with an earlier penalty, gave the hosts a 10-0 lead – but only for a few minutes.
Wales built an attack from their own half, working the ball left and right with George North prominent as a carrier and Nick Tompkins involved several times.
It was worked wide to Josh Adams and while he was brought down a few metres from the line, he popped the ball to Tommy Reffell and the flanker scored his first Test try.
Dan Biggar added a penalty to reduce South Africa’s lead to two going into the final minutes of the half, but the hosts had the final say.
From a five-metre lineout, they set a maul and Bongi Mbonambi, on the occasion of his 50th cap, broke off and burst over to score a try.
The Boks’ ill-discipline proved costly early in the second half as it allowed Biggar to slot two penalties to make it 17-14, but Siya Kolisi put his team further ahead when he powered over from close range after a spell of pressure in the Welsh 22.
Wales had a few opportunities in the final 12 minutes when the Boks were penalised but weren’t able to take them, a lack of accuracy at a five-metre lineout and a lack of support for Adams as he made a break proving costly.
Instead, Pollard was able to add a little more gloss to the scoreboard with two late penalties.
Now it’s onto the next challenge, the Rugby Championship for the Springboks and the autumn Internationals for Wales.
Recommended videos for you
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.