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Wales survive fightback to overcome Springboks

By Jack Davies
Wales’ Hadleigh Parkes celebrates.

Wales survived an almighty Springboks fightback to escape with a 24-22 victory over South Africa in Cardiff on Saturday.

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A try from Scott Williams and two for Hadleigh Parkes – making his debut on the day he became eligible to represent his adopted country – saw Wales open up an 18-point advantage over the Springboks, whose coach Allister Coetzee is reported to be heading for the exit door after this match.

However, Warrick Gelant’s try at the end of the opening period sparked South Africa into life, with Handre Pollard and Jesse Kriel going over after the interval to move their side into a one-point lead.

Leigh Halfpenny edged Wales back in front with a penalty after 68 minutes and the hosts battled through a pulsating finish to cling on to a win that looked a formality not long before half-time.

The result marks a third successive home victory for Wales against the Springboks, who will be left to rue their dismal start.

As they did in defeat to the All Blacks last weekend, it was Wales who applied the early pressure, but the hosts on this occasion took only five minutes to make the breakthrough.

Hallam Amos collected a Dan Biggar crosskick played into his path and offloaded for Williams to finish the job.

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It has been an eventful week for the Scarlets centre, who crossed against New Zealand on the occasion of his 50th cap before confirming a switch to the Ospreys.

Williams’ centre partner Parkes got in on the act three minutes later, another Biggar chip playing in the New Zealander for his first international try.

Halfpenny converted both and Wales were running rampant against a poor Springbok defence, who earned a breather – if nothing more – when the TMO decided that Malcolm Marx had been held up on the line at the other end after powering his way through a collection of red shirts.

Pollard finally got South Africa on the board with a penalty after half an hour, but Parkes soon doubled his international tally after Biggar charged down Andries Coetzee, with Taulupe Faletau slinging the ball left for the Scarlets man having pounced on the loose ball.

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But the Springboks found a response out of nowhere before the break – Dillyn Leyds’ burst from deep ended in centre Kriel booting for the line, with Gelant winning the resulting foot race.

Pollard added the extras and crossed for a try of his own as South Africa seized the momentum early in the second half, only to miss with the kick that followed his own touchdown.

But the Boks had their tails up and Kriel barged through the challenge of Halfpenny in the corner to help the visitors into the lead for the first time.

Halfpenny, however, was on hand to clinch the win with three points from the tee, leaving Wales to see out a tense final 10 minutes.

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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