Wales felt those 'big Bok shots'
INTERVIEW: Discipline and physicality are two of the key aspects Wales will look at as they build towards the second Test against South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Veteran Wales and British and Irish Lions flank Dan Lydiate knows about overcoming the odds, with the 34-year-old having joined the Welsh tour squad to South Africa after a year-long battle with a knee injury.
He suffered a serious knee injury 10 minutes into his first cap for Wales in more than two years, his country’s opening Six Nations match against Ireland last year.
This past Saturday, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, he featured in a Test for Wales for the first time since that dramatic day in Cardiff last year.
While the loose forward came through the match without suffering another injury, he admitted it was a brutal encounter.
Wales came out of the blocks firing in the first Test at Loftus, leading 18-3 at the half-time break.
However, a four-try comeback by South Africa saw the Springboks edge the encounter 32-29 – through a late Damian Willemse penalty.
Wales get a chance to make amends in Bloemfontein on Saturday and even though there were many positives Ospreys blindside Lydiate believes it will be even harder in the second test.
It was a very confrontational encounter in Pretoria, but Lydiate is ready for round two.
“I enjoyed it,” Lydiate said about his return to the Test arenas.
“There were some big shots out there and I felt every single one of them.
“That’s what it’s all about, it’s what they [the Boks] pride themselves on.”
Lydiate said, as always, discipline is a factor.
“We need to watch the video back and see where the infringements were,” the flank said.
“There were a few yellow cards out there and we talked before the game about making sure we’re right on the edge but our discipline was good.
“Going off the stats, it wasn’t where it needed to be today and it let them back into the game.
“Obviously you have to credit South Africa, because they turned the screw but at times so did we.
“We just need to knuckle down this week now.”
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Wales conceded 15 penalties and received four yellow cards during the first test, and Lydiate insists they will have to improve significantly in this area.
“Before the game spoke about playing right on the edge, but making sure our discipline is good,” he said.
“If you are just going off the stats it wasn’t where it needed to be today, and it let them back into the game.
“You’ve got to credit South Africa because they turned the screw at times but so did we.
“It’s so fast and frantic out there so you don’t always pick out what he [the referee] sees sometimes. We’ll have to look at it.
“We’ll have to tighten up because you can’t give away that many yellow cards. We’ll look at ourselves before anyone else.”
Lydiate believes it will be even harder in the second Test.
“It feels like it’s one that slipped away but we can’t dwell on that,” he said.
“We’ve got two big Test matches [Bloem this week and Cape Town a week later] coming up. We need to be better and I’m sure they will be as well.
“We got written off, especially after the last game of the Six Nations,” he said of a loss to Italy in Cardiff back in March.
“I wasn’t involved but we had to draw a line in the sand.
“[Coach] Wayne [Pivac] drew a line in the sand after we got back into camp, and we are firmly focussed on putting the wrongs right but it was still a loss which does hurt.
“There are a lot of positives but we need to make sure we are better next week if we are going to try to topple the world champions.”
The 34-year-old Lydiate was unsure whether he’d get the opportunity to wear the red shirt of Wales again.
This was the 65-times-capped blindside flank’s first Wales appearance since suffering a serious injury against Ireland in February 2021.
“It’s always a massive honour and I probably didn’t expect to be called up to the summer tour, to be honest,” he said.
“I’ve been given an opportunity and it was class to pull on the jersey once again.
“It was a shock, to be honest so it was nice to be called back up. I hope I get another chance. There were some big shots out there and I felt every one of them!”
@rugby365com, with additional reporting by @WelshRugbyUnion
* Picture credit: Johan Orton
Been a long time since I had the honour to pull this jersey on once again unbelievable experience playing at a packed loftus versfeld v southafrica🇿🇦gutted with the result but we go again 👍🏻💪🏻 big congrats to @tommyreffell his first cap 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/LASYHK7l3e
— Dan Lydiate (@dan_lydiate) July 3, 2022