Home Sport Wales win exposes Boks’ intentions for ­upcoming Test season

Wales win exposes Boks’ intentions for ­upcoming Test season

99

There were plenty of growing pains in the match, but it was expected and how the South Africans fought through and overcame it shows that things can only get better from here on in.

South Africa’s Aphelele Fassi in action with Wales’ Liam Williams at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, Britain on June 22, 2024. Picture: Action Images via Reuters, Peter Cziborra

UNLIKE when he first took over as Springbok head coach in 2018, the second coming of Rassie Erasmus got off to a winning start against Wales in London on Saturday afternoon.

But it was not the cleanest of matches by the world champions as they left it late to put an understrength Welsh side to bed, winning 41-13 after only getting the upper hand in the final 20 minutes of the Twickenham duel.

The Springbok forwards dominated proceedings as expected as the five-try victory, coupled with some excellent defence, secured a first win of the year for the Boks with 12 more Tests – including some blockbuster duels with Ireland and New Zealand – awaiting Erasmus and his side this season.

There were plenty of growing pains in the match, but it was expected and how the South Africans fought through and overcame it shows that things can only get better from here on in.

This was a Springbok side without plenty of first-choice players who will come into contention in two weeks’ time when the first of two Tests against the Irish takes place in Pretoria.

The stop-start nature of the game was expected on Saturday, but after the Boks went up 13-3 early on with some enterprising play and solid kicking off the tee, there was an expectancy that the game would turn into an early rout.

The final score indicates that it was indeed a runaway victory for the four-time Webb Ellis Cup winners, but Wales put up a solid display, especially in the middle stanzas of both halves.

Early on, the Springbok scrum machine laid down the marker as the front row dominated the inexperienced one of the Welsh as penalties came the Boks’ way.

The early possession led to a fourth-minute try after some good, direct play from the South Africans, before some fine interplay between try scorer Jesse Kriel and winger Makazole Mapimpi saw the outside centre go over within five minutes of the kick-off.

The try came after debutant flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse missed his first shot – a penalty attempt – at goal, but he made no mistake with his follow-up kick to convert the try. Hendrikse contributed seven points via his boot and made good runs and strong tackles in his first game.

Kriel returned the favour early in the second half when he did the hard work for Mapimpi to score a try of his own and extend his team’s lead after going into half-time 14-13 up.

Lions winger Edwill van der Merwe also had a great debut and was his hard-working self with how he looked for opportunities on the attack, while his defending saved a certain try when the Welsh broke through.

That fine breakthrough try sealed the game for his side and he deservedly received the player-of-the-match award.

Utility back Sacha Feinberg-­Mngomezulu also had a pressure-cooker debut with his 50-metre-plus penalty kick stretching the lead to two converted tries at 27-13 as the Boks looked to pull away.

There were some more standout performances by other rookies like eighthman Evan Roos and fullback Aphelele Fassi, although Fassi received a controversial yellow card after jumping for a high ball and catching it, after which his boot made contact with a Welsh defender when he came back to ground.

But the Sharks star was full value for his grit under the aerial bombs from the opposition and he will be happy with his return to international rugby.

Although the Boks dominated Wales in the scrums, some penalty calls went against them from Irish referee Chris Busby on which they most likely would seek clarity.

Overall, it was a satisfying performance by the Pieter-Steph du Toit-led Boks, although they will know that plenty of work lies ahead looking at the Irish series.

This victory will definitely show them where things went wrong and the areas to sharpen up, but Erasmus and his side passed the first test with flying colours.

Previous articleNorris snatches pole with ‘perfect lap’ in Spain
Next articleIEC commissioner in dock on fraud charges