Wales edge Boks in Washington


Last Updated: 03/06/18 12:41am

Gareth Anscombe tests the Springbok defence

Gareth Anscombe tests the Springbok defence

Wales held on for a narrow 22-20 victory over South Africa at the Robert F Kennedy Stadium in Washington on Saturday.

First-half tries from Hallam Amos and debutant Tomas Williams – with Gareth Anscombe adding the extras – saw Wales come back to take a 14-3 half-time lead after trailing to an Elton Jantjies penalty.

South Africa hit back with tries from Travis Ismaiel and Makazole Mapimpi, either side of an Anscombe penalty.

But Robert du Preez’s three-pointer saw the Springboks go back ahead seven minutes from time before replacement hooker Ryan Elias finished it off for Wales after du Preez’s clearance kick was charged down.

Ryan Elias scores the winning try for Wales Ryan Elias scores the winning try for Wales

Ryan Elias scores the winning try for Wales

The staging of the game was criticised in some quarters with both sides without a host of first-choice players.

Jantjies opened the scoring for South Africa with a straightforward penalty after Tom Prydie had sealed off at the preceding ruck.

Wales were dealt a severe blow when wing Steffan Evans left the field injured after appearing to damage his knee.

With the game descending into a slugfest, Wales scored two tries in three minutes to take control of the match.

The first try came as a result of captain Ellis Jenkins pinching the ball from the ruck in the South African 22. The ball was recycled with Hadleigh Parkes, who had replaced Evans, and Ross Moriarty showing good hands to put Dragons full-back Amos over.

Wales now had the bit between their teeth and after stringing some phases together, Cardiff Blues scrum half Williams wriggled his way over the try line to score on his international debut. Anscombe converted both scores.

Tomos Williams scores for Wales Tomos Williams scores for Wales

Tomos Williams scores for Wales

The Springboks pushed hard to narrow the deficit on the stroke of half-time with a series of powerful surges on the Wales line. But openside flanker Jenkins was again to the fore winning a penalty at the breakdown, meaning Wales turned around 14-3 ahead at the interval.

It took only three minutes of the second half for South Africa to cross the whitewash with Ismaiel intercepting a loose pass from Amos to run in unopposed.

But Anscombe further extended Wales’ lead with a penalty attempt after the Springboks had infringed at the tackle area.

Wales butchered a clear try-scoring opportunity when No 8 Ross Moriarty charged clean through. The ball was recycled only for Owen Watkin to knock the ball forward with four men outside him.

Gatland’s side were then reduced to 14 men when Watkin was sent to the sin bin for deliberately knocking the ball over his own dead ball line after being pressured by Jesse Kriel.

After a series of dominant scrums, Mapimpi crossed at the far left-hand corner with Jantjies successful with a touchline conversion, meaning the scores were level at 17-17 going into the final quarter.

Jesse Kriel on the attack for the Springboks Jesse Kriel on the attack for the Springboks

Jesse Kriel on the attack for the Springboks

The South African forwards began to dominate their Welsh opponents as they attempted to drive their way over the try line.

With Wales under severe pressure, Ismaiel appeared to cross at the right-hand corner but was forced into touch by Cory Hill.

Jantjies’ replacement Du Preez put South Africa into the lead with a penalty attempt from right in front of the posts after their forwards destroyed the Wales scrum.

But just as the Springboks looked to be heading for victory, Elias touched down for Wales after a charge down from Williams.

The Springboks pushed hard for the win, but Wales held out to record a notable victory.

Watch England take on the Springboks in their three-match tour to South Africa on Sky Sports. Click here for fixtures.

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