5:52pm Saturday 14th June 2014
By Chris Kirwan
WALES suffered a demoralising 38-16 hammering in Durban after being comprehensively outplayed by a bigger and sharper South Africa.
Warren Gatland’s men had hoped to make history at Kings Park yet the wait for a Welsh victory on South African soil – and a first success since the solitary win in 1999 – goes on.
The Springboks pretty much had the victory in the bag before a quarter had been played and the only consolation was that the margin of defeat could have been an awful lot bigger.
The hope had been that Wales would take a leaf out of the book of World Cup group stage rivals England by taking it to a southern hemisphere big guns.
But while Stuart Lancaster’s side have given New Zealand a pair of Test scares, it was all too easy for the Boks and a dramatic Welsh improvement will be needed in Nelspruit next weekend to at least make it a contest.
Wales made a bright start with fly-half Dan Biggar booting them into an early lead with a smart drop goal.
From 3-0 up it went horrendously wrong with the tourists lacking snap in defence, losing the aerial battle and giving too much space to the Springboks’ dangerous runners.
Wales operated behind the gain line, South Africa marched over it.
The hosts were in front when wing Bryan Habana won the race to full-back Willie le Roux’s deft chip over the top and fly-half Morne Steyn added the extras.
Wales centre Jamie Roberts was then sin-binned for taking the home number 15 out in the air and the Boks made their extra man count.
They opted to kick a penalty to the corner rather than at the posts and the decision was rewarded when number eight Duane Vermeulen bulldozed over.
Biggar banged over another drop goal but Habana raced over straight from the restart to make it 21-6 before Le Roux chipped and gathered for try number four.
It was 28-9 at half-time but it could have been even worse; thankfully the South Africans had five pointless trips to the Welsh 22.
The hosts kept up racking up the points after the restart with Steyn kicking an early penalty and then expertly converting from the right touchline to make it 38-9 after wing Cornal Hendricks was put over down the right by that man le Roux.
Wales thought that they crossed the whitewash for the first time when replacement scrum-half Gareth Davies made a lightning 50-metre break, passed to Biggar and then received the ball back from his half-back partner.
However, referee Romain Poite went to the TMO and it was chalked off for the ‘assist’ being forward.
The try did eventually come in the 69th minute when turnover ball was worked right for wing Alex Cuthbert to show that he is one of the most deadly finishers in the world game to race over from 80 metres after outfoxing le Roux.
Wales showed much better defence at the death to prevent the hosts from having the final say but it was too little, too late.
Wales scorers: try – A Cuthbert; conversion – J Hook; penalty – D Biggar; drop goals – D Biggar (2)
South Africa scorers: tries – B Habana (2), D Vermeulen, W le Roux, C Hendricks; M Steyn (5); penalty – M Steyn
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