Rugby Union

South Africa dominance denies Wales

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On a day where Welsh stalwart Adam Jones played in his 100th international game, there was talk that a mix of experience and youth in the Welsh side could seriously challenge South Africa, and potentially add to their dismal record of one win in 27 outings against the Boks. 

However, a first half display of almost perfect test match rugby by South Africa, crushed those thoughts convincingly. 

Things did start brightly for Wales as stand in captain Alun Wyn Jones forced a turnover. This led to sustained Welsh pressure and, with a penalty advantage being played Dan Biggar slotted a drop goal to put Wales 3-0 up. 

Then came the surge of green and gold. Outstanding full back Willie Le Roux saw space behind Welsh lines and weighted a delicate chip over the top. He appeared to be taken out off the ball but Bryan Habana claimed to score regardless of any alleged infringement. 7-3 South Africa after seven minutes. 

Wales coach Warren Gatland - recently honoured with an OBE - spoke before the game, stating that Wales would adapt their kicking game to try and keep the ball inside the field of play. It was evident early on that this strategy did not work. With a back three including Habana and Le Roux, both potent finishers in international rugby, it certainly seemed a strange ploy. 

Throughout the match South Africa used their powerful ball carriers to batter the Welsh defense. Stretching them and committing several players, including the full back on many occasions. Le Roux who stood in as a second-ten at times and an influential playmaker often exploited this space left by the committed full back Liam Williams.

Using his clever tactical nous and impressive footballing skills he orchestrated wave after wave of South African attack. 

The Welsh - although not playing particularly poorly - were certainly not at their best. Missing several influential players, including captain Sam Warburton and accurate goal kicker Leigh Halfpenny, who would have certainly made a pivotal difference. 

Wales did have chances but they did not take them. This was largely due to poor decision making and a lack of accuracy with their handling skills. South Africa had chances and took them, with ruthless aplomb. 

Shaun Edwards, the Welsh defensive coach, prides himself on his team's blitz defense. Rushing up, closing the space down for the attacking players and making a hard, first up hit stopping the ball carrier on or behind the gain-line.

In Durban though, the ball carrier crossed the gain-line, meaning that Wales had to just defend, defend and defend. Also allowing space for the South Africans to exploit. Wales's defensive efforts were made harder when centre, Jamie Roberts was yellow carded for taking a player out in the air. 

Three more tries came before half time. Imposing number eight, Vermeulen crossed. The second came from iconic winger Habana, who crossed for his 55th international try. And the third was more brilliance from Le Roux. Chipping over the top, he gathered his own kick smartly to score. 

An immense set piece at both scrum and line out provided a platform for South Africa to utilize their powerful ball carriers to great effect. Stretching the Welsh defense. The commanding Le Roux, brilliant in everything he did, turned playmaker. Leading South Africa in to half time 28-9 ahead. 

The second half continued in much the same way as the first had ended. Wales then ran the changes after 58 minutes. Mike Phillips was replaced by Gareth Davies, Matthew Morgan replaced Liam Williams and later James Hook replaced the impressive Dan Biggar. With both Morgan and Davies making their full international debuts. 

Davies made an immediate impact. Using his sharp footwork and searing speed, he made a break and passed to the supporting Biggar, who then tried to offload but it was adjudged to be a forward pass. 

The introduction of the three backs, Hook, Davies and Morgan certainly increased the tempo in the Welsh attacks. The defensive effort also improved, stopping the ball carrier at source. Words were clearly said at half time by the Welsh coaches. 

A great defensive effort on 70 minutes turned the ball over and allowed it to be distributed out wide for Alex Cuthbert to run in and score from all of 60 metres out. A quite superb solo effort. 

Ten minutes later and the game was over. South Africa won 38-16. 

South Africa dominated the collision area and breakdown through out. Their immense set piece provided a platform for their ball carriers to gain invaluable yards. Inspired play making from Le Roux and ruthless efficiency saw the Boks take their chances when it mattered. Both Vermeulen and Le Roux stood out however i would have given Le Roux man of the match. Imperious when gathering the high ball, his great footballing skills and ability to score and set up tries meant that Wales had no answer to him. 

Despite a convincing winning margin. Wales lost the second half 10-7, a marked improvement. Defensively and offensively they were better. Davies, Hook and Morgan created a spark in midfield. Their handling skills were more accurate and defensively they stopped the ball carriers at source. There were positives to build on. But i can only see a South African series win. 

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Topics:
Wales Rugby
Rugby Union
South Africa Rugby

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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