More Fizzle than Sizzle as Springboks Lose to Wales

Sadly the Springboks have ended their fairly triumphant end-of-year tour with a 20-11 loss to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday… making it the fourth time in a row that the Welsh team have beaten South Africa, and leaving questions about the World Cup.

After kicking off the tour with a very close loss to England, followed by great wins against France and Scotland, South Africa’s confidence was flying high… but tonight that crumbled in a performance that was riddled with errors and punctuated with penalties.

SA Rugby tweeted afterwards: “Congrats to Wales. Well deserved 20-11 win over the Springboks at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.”

Wales have been amped up this season with nine consecutive wins, and it was obvious tonight why they’re now ranked number three in the world. It was a great set back to Rassie Erasmus and his Springbok team who had been building momentum, and now only have four more tests until the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

Brenden Nel from Supersport.com said “To say this was the worst performance of the season may be cruel, but it certainly was the worst of the tour, and a disappointing way to end the season…

“The Welsh defence, which was superb, totally dominated the Springboks at the breakdown… Wales must have the best defensive side in international rugby at the moment, and their stinginess in not allowing the Boks metres also says a lot about the Bok method of attack.

“With a willingness to restart the game quickly, they took away the Boks’ best attacking weapon in the lineout, negated them in the scrums and then bossed them at the breakdown.”

Nel said it was ironic that South Africa’s best performance came from Cheslin Kolbe who wasn’t even meant to play… but stepped in when S’bu Nkosi injured himself in the warm-up; and said this final match raised a lot of questions about the World Cup.

Nel conceded that “the Boks did score twice – well, almost – as Pieter-Steph du Toit touched the sideline early on as he ran in out wide, and Jesse Kriel looked to have scored but the TMO ruled there was no clear evidence the ball touched the ground.

“It was one of those nights, 50-50 decisions were going against the Boks…”

He said Handre Pollard’s penalty was the “only thing that the Boks could smile about in the first half, but things got better in the second when they started finding space in the midfield and after eight phases some quick hands from Willie le Roux flipped the ball onto Jesse Kriel on the wing who dived in at the corner.

“A penalty by Elton Jantjies brought the Boks within three, but then some moments of madness handed momentum back to Wales and took the Boks’ chances of a late victory away.

“Jantjies knocked on from an up and under, but didn’t play to the whistle with Wales kicking the ball downfield and despite Williams (Welsh player Liam Williams) clearly diving on (Aphiwe) Dyantyi, the penalty went the other way and Dan Biggar kicked the first of two penalties to put the nail in the coffin.

“Another break by Jonathan Davies led to the second penalty and Biggar added another three points, leaving the Boks frustrated and irritated at a loss they have only themselves to blame for.”

SA Scorers – Try: Jesse Kriel. Penalties: Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies.