Boks boss it in Cardiff

2013-11-10 14:00

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Despite Wales’ good form of late, last night’s game was a walk in the park for a buoyant SA side

Wales have not beaten South Africa in 14 years and at no stage did they look like snapping the streak.

The Boks weren’t at their best but their self-belief and their defence was enough to help them extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches since the 29-19 defeat on June 26 1999 at the very same stadium.

The Boks were under the cosh for the best part of the second half, but all they needed was a moment of magic from talismanic scrum half Fourie du Preez, whose inconspicuous kick down field was not followed up by Welsh number 10 Rhys Priestland.

At the end of the day, it was the team that used its opportunities best that was rewarded as the Welsh saw a lot of ball without actually using it.

If there is some thinking the Boks could do in the run-up to their Murrayfield clash against Scotland on Saturday, it is how they phase in their Japanese-based stars.

While Jaque Fourie contributed to the winning try, he looked out of depth. So did JP Pietersen, who seemed to struggle to readapt to international rugby.

The first half would always be a harbinger of what the game would contain and the physicality on what was a poor pitch was immense.

It took its toll on the Welsh, who lost three key players in Adam Jones, Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams within the first 30 minutes.

The latter two came off after the Springboks scored their first try through Jean de Villiers, who was at the end of the magic started by Bryan Habana deep in the Boks territory.

Williams was run over by freight train Du Plessis, while Davies was caught up in a ruck as the Boks were in motion to score.

Davies’ loss was massive as he was their key man both in attack and defence in the absence of Jamie Roberts.

It robbed the already attackingly bereft Welsh back line of important momentum as their pack, which was outmuscled, did provide them with quality ball.

That was down to monstrous defence from the Bok back row, with Willem Alberts the best of the three.

The Sharks’ loose forward did not have a very good outing against the All Blacks, but he seems to be at home when in the northern hemisphere.

It was one of his bone-crushing tackles that led to the Boks second try, which was a quality rolling maul that an ailing Welsh forwards could not contain.

With the little possession that they had, the Boks were able to establish an 11-point lead in four minutes.

That was down to some excellent game management by Morne Steyn, who limped off after converting the Boks’ second try.

However, that would be the last time the Boks had any semblance of control.

It was to be the first time in a long time that the Boks would miss Steyn in any sort of match situation as the Boks lost shape and structure.

It was only down to Leigh Halfpenny’s accurate boot that Wales trailed by five points but most of those penalties came from questionable breakdown calls by referee Alain Rolland, who did not have the best of games.

The scrums were always going to be a lottery and Rolland made a mess of them, book-marked by his carding of Gethin Jenkins and Coenie Oosthuizen in the 59th minute.

It proved to be the turning point of the game and as it became loose, up stepped Du Preez and the game took on a green hue that the Welsh were not quite able to erase.

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