South Africa Triumphs Over Wales in Qatar Airways Cup 2024

 South Africa Triumphs Over Wales in Qatar Airways Cup 2024 By Sruthi Nair - June 23, 2024
 The South African Springboks

The South African Springboks

In a one-off test at Twickenham on Saturday, a significantly altered South African team scored five tries to defeat Wales 41-13 in their first match since winning the Rugby World Cup in France nine months ago.

South Africa's performance was far from flawless as they began their international season. Their inaccuracies allowed Wales to stay competitive for an hour before South Africa pulled away, bolstered by experienced players off the bench who took control of the game.

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus commented, "It was beneficial in terms of getting game time into players like [hooker] Malcolm Marx, who has not played for nine months, [loose-forward] Kwagga Smith, and the other Japanese-based players who had a break. We expected a stop-start game with many errors, but overall, the goal was achieved." 

Centre Jesse Kriel, wings Makazole Mapimpi and Edwill van der Merwe, and hooker Bongi Mbonambi all scored tries, complemented by a penalty try. Wales managed a single try through captain Dewi Lake.

With the match outside the international window, South Africa fielded only five players from their World Cup final win over New Zealand. Wales also missed several key players for the same reason.

South Africa captain Pieter-Steph du Toit remarked, "We've only been together for two weeks, so it's a good start, but there's a lot to work on. This has been good preparation for the upcoming Ireland series."

South Africa scored their first try within four minutes as Kriel crossed the line, followed by a penalty try awarded when Wales illegally halted the maul. Wales received two yellow cards in quick succession for wing Rio Dyer and No. 8 Aaron Wainwright, who infringed to stop the South African onslaught.

Wales coach Warren Gatland noted, "There were many positives and good things. We were under pressure with two yellow cards but managed to cope. We improved defensively by defending higher. Some calls didn't go our way, affecting our momentum. We switched off at times, allowing them to make breaks. We'll work hard to address that."

Despite South Africa's advantage, they could not add to their score while Wales were down to 13 men, losing continuity. Wales scored their opening try from a messy line-out with Lake forcing his way over the line. Flyhalf Sam Costelow's penalty brought Wales within one point, trailing 14-13 at halftime.

In the second half, South Africa regained control, helped by their bench, and added three more tries, including a debut try for Van der Merwe, who displayed impressive speed.

Wales' captain Lake reflected, "There were many positives for us, but against double world champions, you have to seize your opportunities. If you don't, the scoreboard ends up looking like that."

South Africa also handed debuts to flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse, lock Ben-Jason Dixon, and utility back Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, the latter two coming off the bench.

By Sruthi Nair - June 23, 2024
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