Boks toil for series win
MATCH REPORT: Job done! Series won! Those are the important facts.
However, South Africa had to toil for their 30-14 win over Wales in Cape Town on Saturday – a result that gave them a two-one series win over the touring Welsh team.
It also meant there would be no Northern Hemisphere whitewash again – after Ireland (against New Zealand) and England (against Australia) won earlier in the day.
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
Recalled captain Siyamthanda Kolisi was among the try scorers.
All three Springbok tries stemmed from physical strength and after Wales came within three points early in the second half, the home team pulled away.
Handre Pollard, who scored 20 points including three conversions and three penalties, and Mbongeni Mbonambi were the other try scorers for South Africa, who led 17-8 at half-time.
Despite the series loss, gutsy Wales will leave the Republic with a greatly enhanced reputation after putting behind them a humiliating home loss to Italy in the Six Nations in March.
Success for South Africa halted a run of series victories by Northern Hemisphere teams – with France winning in Japan last weekend, and Ireland in New Zealand and England in Australia earlier on Saturday.
Wales suffered a severe blow just before the kick-off when No.8 Taulupe Faletau was injured while warming up and had to be replaced by Josh Navidi – with Taine Basham promoted to the bench.
The biggest pre-match cheers were reserved for Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, who ran onto the field ahead of his teammates in recognition of him winning his 100th cap.
South Africa started superbly, dominating possession as they camped in the Wales half and flyhalf Handre Pollard slotted a fifth-minute penalty from close range to open the scoring.
Intense pressure from the home team close to the tourists’ tryline followed and they stretched the lead to 10 points by the 16th minute as Pollard dived over close to the posts and converted his try.
Almost immediately, veteran Alun Wyn Jones extended his world record number of caps for Wales to 153 when he come on for injured flank Dan Lydiate.
Wales got back into the match at the end of the first quarter when patient handling culminated in flank Tommy Reffell taking a pass from wing Josh Adams and scoring an unconverted try.
Star Springboks wing Cheslin Kolbe then had to leave the field injured with veteran Willie le Roux coming on and forcing a backline reshuffle that included fullback Damian Willemse moving to inside centre.
English referee Matthew Carley warned Wales several times to cut out infringements that led to eight penalties being awarded against them by the 25th minute.
South Africa got a second try three minutes before half-time as hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi celebrated his 50th cap by scoring a pushover try off a line-out and Pollard converted for a 17-8 half-time advantage.
Two successful Biggar penalties reduced the gap to three points before Kolisi, one of 10 changes to the team beaten in the second Test last weekend, barged over for a third Springboks try.
Pollard converted and slotted two late penalties to boost morale ahead of two home Rugby Championship matches against arch rivals New Zealand next month.
Man of the match: Damian Willemse was impressive as a fullback and inside centre, Siyamthanda Kolisi had his best game of the year, Eben Etzebeth did himself and his country proud in his 100th Test, as did Mbongeni Mbonambi in his 50th international. Bomb-squad members Malcolm Marx, Vincent Koch, Francois de Klerk and Willie le Roux did their jobs admirably. Our award goes to the man called Kwagga – utility loose forward Albertus Smith for his impressive work at the breakdown, with ball in hand and general energetic performance.
For South Africa
Tries: Pollard, Mbonambi, Kolisi
Cons: Pollard 3
Pens: Pollard 3
Pens: Biggar 3
South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Elrigh Louw, 22 Francois de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Owen Watkin.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)