South Africa subdue Wales to clinch Test series

 

South Africa 19 Wales 8

South Africa completed a Test double over Wales with a flattering 19-8 victory at a wet and windy Newlands Stadium today.

The Springboks triumphed 34-19 in Bloemfontein last weekend, but new coach Rudolf Straeuli has much work to do before travelling to New Zealand and Australia next month for Tri-Nations championship matches.

Apart from impressive performances by fullback Brent Russell and replacement scrumhalf Craig Davidson, there was little to excite Straeuli, a member of the 1995 World Cup-winning team.

Wales held their own up front, winning line-outs much more comfortably than the Springboks, and were drawing 8-8 with nine minutes of regulation time left before a near-capacity 44,000 crowd.

A couple of successful penalty kicks by South Africa flyhalf Andre Pretorius created a six-point gap and Davidson snatched an opportunist try after charging down an attempted clearance by Wales captain Colin Charvis.

English referee Tony Spreadbury, who was kept busy in a match marred by niggling among rival forwards, only awarded the try after seeking the opinion of the TV referee.

But video replays of the incident confirmed that Davidson had touched down before the ball spun out of his grasp on a pitch made treacherous by torrential second-half rain.

Wales, once again displaying spirit and skill, fought until the end and elusive wing Rhys Williams lost possession just before the final whistle as the Springbok line came under intense pressure.

Flyhalf Stephen Jones put the 'Red Dragons' ahead midway through a dour first half with a penalty goal and Pretorius levelled with his first attempt at goal 11 minutes later.

As they did last weekend, the Springboks edged ahead on the stroke of half-time with Russell, making his first senior appearance at fullback, diving over halfway out after taking a pass from Pretorius.

Charvis brought his team level six minutes into the second half, brushing aside Springbok scrumhalf Johannes Conradie to barge over in the corner after the Welsh won a lineout.

South Africa captain Bobby Skinstad, who made several penetrating runs, praised the guts and determination of his side, saying they performed well in appaling conditions.

"Russell was outstanding in the wet while Davidson kicked us into some excellent attacking positions. Brent and Craig shared a room so we must find out what they had in their porridge," Skinstad joked.

Charvis was generous in defeat, praising the new-look Springbok side for making quick progress as they seek to improve on a record of only five wins in 11 Tests last year.

"My boys displayed big hearts and we had to dig deep just to contain the Boks at times. Still, I take home much happier memories than the last time we were in South Africa and conceded 96 points."

The Springboks host Argentina in Springs on June 29 and Samoa in Pretoria on July 6 before launching their Tri-Nations campaign against the All Blacks two weeks later in Wellington.

AFP