Boks begin Euro mission in imperious fashion

The Springboks started what they hope will be a 78-day odyssey through Europe with an imperious eight-try demolition of a brave but inexperienced and outgunned Wales team to win their Rugby World Cup warm-up Test by 52-16 (halftime 24-9) at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

It was South Africa’s biggest win over Wales in Cardiff (eclipsing a 34-12 victory in 2007) and featured their most points in the Welsh capital (previous best 38) as the team delivered everything that could be expected of them.The only sour note was a yellow card for Damian Willemse in the final 10 minutes that was referred to the bunker for potential elevation to a red, but in the end, it was decided that the yellow card would stand. 

The Springboks’ superiority in every department – other than in kicking at poles – exposed Wales across the park as they leaked four tries in the first half and were spared only greater scoreboard pain by the fact that three missed kicks by Manie Libbok left seven points unclaimed.

All Wales’s points came from long range penalty goals as they were crunched in the collisions on the gainline and stymied at the set piece where they conceded a free kick and three penalties at the first four scrums. The Boks scored as many tries in the opening period (4) – with the first coming after only four minutes and then three crammed into the last 10 minutes of the half – as the home side began to physically and mentally crumble against the visitors.

Siya Kolisi made an exuberant return to the line-up and gave the scoring pass to hooker Malcolm Marx in the left-hand corner after shouldering into a tackle and offloading from Willie le Roux’s pass. It was Marx’s 16th Test try, equalling the record held by Schalk Burger for the most Test tries by a South African forward. The latter then gave the scoring pass to Canan Moodie on the opposite flank after Libbok had shoveled a pass to the fullback to put him in space after a great break by lock RG Snyman had got the Boks in behind the defensive line.

Moodie looked set for his second from a short kick pass but as he went to gather in the in-goal area it was slapped away by opposite number Rio Dyer who conceded the penalty try and received a yellow card.

Wales’ misery was completed just before the break when centre Jesse Kriel pounced on a loose pass by Wales centre Mason Grady after he had won the race to Damian de Allende’s grubber ahead.

Moments later Kriel might have claimed a second but his toe ahead as he got himself in the lead ran into touch eight metres short of the goal-line. Kolisi was replaced by Marco van Staden after an impressive first half for the captain, who was shortly able to celebrate from the sidelines as Kriel did claim a second try although the majority of the credit belonged to all-action Pieter-Steph du Toit.

The relentless flanker intercepted a Wales pass under the Boks’ posts before galloping 30 meres to release Kriel on a race to the poles, which the centre managed to win over 60 metres. Du Toit claimed the sixth a few minutes later from much closer – a five-metre drive – from a  perfectly executed training ground move.

Libbok kicked a beautiful penalty to within five metres and after replacement Duane Vermeulen had smashed into the Welsh defence from the lineout, Du Toit crashed into and through to plant the ball over the line.

At that point (60 minutes) the bench was cleared with all replacements in action against the out-gunned Welsh. They shipped a second intercept pass to the alert Moodie for him to grab his second from halfway by which point it was becoming apparent that Wales were not sure if it was better not to have the ball than to have it. 

The Boks were certainly enjoying possession and Willemse claimed the eighth try with 12 minutes remaining on a penalty advantage for a collapsed maul. The replacement fullback drifted outside the last line of defence while collecting Libbok’s long flat pass.

Four minutes later Willemse was in the bin for a head collision as he went to tackle Dyer. From the resulting lineout on the Bok five-metre line, Sam Parry crossed in the corner with Costelow making it four from four with the conversion.The Springboks move to London on Sunday to prepare for Friday’s final warm-up Test against New Zealand at Twickenham.

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