Wales 18-23 South Africa: Autumn Nations Series – as it happened

Last modified: 07: 53 PM GMT+0

South African late power edges a wet night in Cardiff

That’s all from me. Thanks for your company.

Wayne Pivac is chatting to Sara Elgan.

“Massive effort from our boys and disspointed not to hold on for last ten minutes. We had a couple of poor penalties at the wrong time and that was the difference. The scrum wasn’t great and that’s something we’ll have to work on, a few learnings we’ll take away.

Ellis Jenkins had some great moments and I’m so pleased to see him back at this level and enjoying himself.

We had to play a different type of game today, but scrum aside I thought we did really well.”

“Valiant effort with an amazing performance from Ellis Jenkins.” says Frazier Stroud, “If he can stay fit he is the Wales captain moving forward. Wales just didn’t have the ball carriers to compete with the heft of the South Africa.”

I think we can file that whole Wales performace under ‘not enough heft’, Frazier.

Jonathan Davies, losing captain, is here:

“Can’t fault the effort, but it’s frustrating. You try and physically match teams, but SA are one of the best in the world and we’ve just got to take the positives and move on. Conditions didn’t help the way we wanted to play and it’s a tough loss.”

Siya Kolisi:

“What a special day. Wales are a very strong team, six years without a win here and we really wanted to focus on this game. First half was tough, but second half we stuck to our guns. We face challenges in our country all the time and we learn to get up and we know by winning we put a smile of people’s faces.”

What a bloke.

A brilliant game in awful conditions, compelling to the end. Much for Wales to be pleased about here but South Africa’s physicality and nous with the high kick told the more the game wore on. And you cannot expect to win a Test match with a scrum as utterly outgunned as the home side’s this evening.



PENALTY! Wales 18 - 23 South Africa (Elton Jantjies)

80+1mins. Game over times two.

80 mins. Wales do nothing but go scrappily and slowly backwards. They end up in their own 22 and are penalised at the breakdown. Game over.

79 mins. Wales have lineout from the Mostert being off his feet at the breakdown. The home side will have to win this, go from 60 metres out and somehow get a score..


78 mins. Vermeulen takes it at the tail and the maul is on once more before the Wales pack manage to halt it. The ball is sprayed left and Wales are doing a decent job of containing the Bok attack. But, they are at the wrong end of the field and the wrong end of the match clock.

76 mins. Liam Williams can’t hold a high kick under pressure from Mapimpi and South Africa are back on the attack on the Wales 22. After a couple of phases Wales are penalised for not rolling away and South Africa spurn the points and kick to the corner, probably cackling as they do so.

TRY! Wales 18 - 20 South Africa (Malcolm Marx)

74 mins. An increasingly tired Wales have a South African lineout to defend in their own 22. The visitors take it at the tail, set the maul, get the ball to the back and walk ominously forward. The pace increases and they are over the line allowing Marx to flop down and score.

South Africa’s Malcolm Marx scores a try.
South Africa’s Malcolm Marx goes over. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images/Reuters

Elton Jantjies pulls the conversion horribly. Penalty or drop goal can still do it for Wales!


71 mins. Wales’s subs at prop have made no difference to the marmalising they are taking at the scrum. Another penalty is won and Steyn launches it into the Wales half

Siya Kolisi off, replaced by Jasper Wiese
Bradley Roberts replaces Elias for Wales.


Wales Subs

Gareth Davies for Tomos Williams
Gareth Anscombe for Dan Biggar

68 mins. Biggar puts a kick in behind for Rees-Zammit to chase, but Reinach reaches it first. The replacement scrum-half runs it back thirty metre as Adams and Rees-Zammit get in each other’s way.

Next phase Reinach puts a horrible sliced kick up that somehow pops to Etzebeth as it retunrs to earth who feeds Mapimpi to run in and score. But wait! The ref wants a look!

At least two Springboks were offside from the kick. NO TRY!

Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa celebrates after going over but the try is disallowed.
Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa celebrates after going over but the try is disallowed. Photograph: Aled Llywelyn/Huw Evans/Shutterstock


PENALTY! Wales 18 - 15 South Africa (Dan Biggar)

65 mins. Adavantage was being played and when everyone calms down Biggar puts Wales back in front

64 mins. Lineout for Wales on the Springbok 22. The ball comes all the way left and as the ball reaches Liam WIlliams some absolute clanker invades the pitch immediately in front of the Scarlets man!

Williams manages to go around him, but it clearly broke his stride and the defence covers. The defence may have covered anyway, but still....

A pitch invader obstructs Liam Williams of Wales on his way to a potential try.
A pitch invader obstructs Liam Williams of Wales on his way to a potential try. Photograph: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock
A pitch invader is removed from the stadium by stewards as a can of beer is thrown from the crowd after the pitch invader stopped a Wales try scoring attempt.
Beer cans ... Photograph: Ben Evans/Huw Evans/Shutterstock
Disgruntled fans pelt the idiotic pitch invader with beer as he’s hauled away by stewards.
And beer are hurled at the idiotic pitch invader by disgruntled fans as he’s hauled away by stewards. Photograph: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock


PENALTY! Wales 15 - 15 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

60 mins. Biggar tries a choke tackle, but the ref calls full tackle, which Biggar either didn’t hear or ignored. Either way the outcome is three points for the Boks from Pollard

57 mins. Another scrum, another waking night terror for the Wales scrum. Honestly, if I was SA I’d be deliberately dropping the ball forward at this stage as every scrum is a guaranteed penalty.

Seb Davies is on for Aaron Wainwright


PENALTY! Wales 15 - 12 South Africa (Frans Steyn)

55 mins. Steyn puts his howitzer foot through it and the ball sails through the Welsh rain and then the posts. What a kick!

54 mins. Siya Kolisi has a run and bounces Tomos Williams’s tackle attempt off like they were zorbing but Kolisi was in a tank. It breaks down but there was advantage being played and Frans Steyn eyes it up from 54 (fifty four) metres.

PENALTY! Wales 15 - 9 South Africa (Dan Biggar)

50 mins. Wales throw all their souls at stopping the Bok charge and it works. The ball is dislodged, McNicholl booms it away and Kriel fumbles the boucing ball. When he finally gathers it he’s snagged by Tompkins and Ellis Jenkins wins yet another turnover at the breakdown.

It’s forty metres out and Biggar hammers it through.

47 mins. Tomos Williams gets the ball in and out of the scrum as quickly as possible, but the clearance kick simply allows Frans Steyn to run the ball back forty metres. It’s worked left to Am who chips and chases before regathering and being hauled down; but South Africa are up to ten phases and in the Wales 22.

In terrible news for the Wales scrum Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch replace Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane in the front row

45 mins. A strong defensive effort from Wales forces Pollard to cross-kick which the ever dependable Josh Adams fields in the air, secures and allows Tomos Williams to clear.

Rhys Carre is out of the bin, Ellis Jenkins is back on and Wyn Jones goes off (for now)

43 mins. Biggar spills his attempt to catch a towering Steyn bomb and Wales have another nightmarish scrum to face, this time a man down. Wyn Jones is swapped with Jenkins with Carre still in the bin.

It makes no difference as the red scrum goes backwards like wheelie bin full of shame being pushed downhill. Penalty South Africa.


Twitter sensation Ox Nche is out of the bin as Pollard gets us back underway.


Half time musings

A fair reflection on the scoreboard of the game so far.

The deluge from above means this isn’t going to be Super Rugby style and Wales have put together the best of what could be recognised as phased play.

Attacking breakdown discipline, stemming form poor organisation of attacking patters is letting the home side down. The frustrating thing is this was an issue last week that appears to have endured in spite of other problems - the lineout and kick chase - being fixed.

South Africa look stronger in the scrum and maul and Wales would do well to keep the ball moving and in play as much as possible. As well as fixing the breakdown, obviously.

HALF TIME! Wales 12 - 9 South Africa

PEEEP! A frantic, interesting if not always quality half comes to an end.

PENALTY! Wales 12 - 9 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

40+1 mins. Wales again suffer for slight lethargy in clearing out their own rucks as Kolisi gets his hands on it. Pollard points at the post and caresses the ball over.

39 mins. Josh Adams covers a deep De Allende kick and munts it miles up the touchline where is take one bounce in play and spurts out. He’s hit that 50 metres in about a six-foot corridor. A kick for the scrapbook.


37 mins. South Africa spray the ball wide from the lineout this time and on the second phase Ellis Jenkins flies out and intercepts the pass. He’s stopped by a high tackle and Biggar has a penalty kick to clear the ball into the South Africa half.

YELLOW CARD! Rhys Carre (Wales)

36 mins. Another catch and drive from South African is stopped illegally, this time by Carre creeping around the side. It’s kickable for Pollard, but they go to the corner given the joy they are having with the maul

34 mins. De Allende steps inside and away from Tompkins far too easily - that was a full revolving door job. South Africa are up into the Wales 22 but more good work from the red defence wins the ball back as they cover a Pollard grubber kick.


PENALTY! Wales 12 - 6 South Africa (Dan Biggar)

32 mins. It was in range and Biggar slotted it.

YELLOW CARD! Ox Nche (South Africa)

32 mins. Ten phases of possession from Wales works the Springbok defence hard and indiscipline creeps in for the visitors.

Ox Nche firstly hits Tompkins high with a swinging arm but the ref says he was going for the bobbling ball so no foul play. While advantage rolls on, Nche then blocks a Tompkins kick-chase, which the ref agrees is an issue.

Penalty and yellow card due to persistent team infringement.

30 mins. Wainwright catches the restart safely and this allows Wales to execute a solid exit drill via a Tomos Williams box-kick. That’s the first time in the match either side have received restart correctly since the kick-off, which says much about what’s been going on.

PENALTY! Wales 9 - 6 South Africa (Dan Biggar)

27 mins. Lineout for Wales on the Bok 22 is won cleanly and fired into midfield before De Allende tackles Jon Davies but is pinged for not releasing afterwards. It’s bang in front and Biggar doesn’t miss those.

24 mins. The Springbok pack power is growing ominous. From the lineout they set up the maul and Wales can do nothing but pull it down as it gets rolling; Adam Beard the guilty man.

SA go back to the corner and Wales repel the maul legally this time. The ball comes out to to the backs and the returning Ellis Jenkins wins a crucial turnover at the breakdown. Outstanding work from the blind-side.

21 mins. Wales have good position with the ball on the SA ten metre line, but the home team’s attack is predictable and has too many one-up runners. And that is absolute manna for the Bok defence who again win a breakdown penalty.

At the lineout they win another one for Wales driving early and Pollard puts them right into the Wales 22.

Frans Steyn is on for the Boks with Damian Willemse off for an HIA assessment.

PENALTY! Wales 6 - 6 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

18 mins. Hmmm. The Wales pack holds for about ten seconds and then folds like a concertina then splinters as South Africa have a shove. Penalty, which Pollard gobbles up.

16 mins. First scrum of the game is a Bok one in the Wales half; the first test for Rhys Carre at loose-head whose scrummaging is, er, not best.

PENALTY! Wales 6 - 3 South Africa (Dan Biggar)

14 mins. Anything Wales can do is matched by South Africa as the visitors immediately infringe from the kick-off. On the advantage Biggar creams a pinpoint cross-kick to Rees-Zammit who is above Mapimpi but the slippery ball guns through his grip and into touch. So close!

Biggar tees the ball up again and establishes his team’s lead once more.

PENALTY! Wales 3 - 3 South Africa (Handre Pollard)

11 mins. In similar scenes to the NZ match, Wales get some points and immediately allow the opposition back in. Ellis Jenkins is penalised in front and Pollard brings it level from 30 metres.

PENALTY! Wales 3 - 0 South Africa (Dan Biggar)

9 mins. Wales win a lineout in the opposition 22, which is already a marked improvement on last week. After few phases Tompkins fires a long pass to Rees-Zammit who steps Mapimpi, but as he drives for the line he’s engulfed by two Bok scramble defenders.

Advantage was being played and Biggar tees it up and puts Wales ahead. A deserved lead, just about.

6 mins. Wales are doing OK in winning possession, but their use of it presently has a lot of the shovelling the proverbial about it. Slow passes, forced left and right that allows the SA blitz defence to simply walk into the line an disrupt.

But there’s some clumsly breakdown action from the Boks and then they stay offside to give Wales a penalty. Biggar sends it into the corner.

3 mins. The first period of possession for Wales comes to an end as their laboured midfield passing allows Am to clamp on the isolated Tompkins to steal the ball. The Boks can do little with it and there’s some scrappy back and forth with the ball by both teams.


1 min. Dan Biggar has the ball and he drop-punts it deep. Willemse gathers it securely and Hershel Jantjies clears.

All the usual pointless pyrotechnics and basic rock soundtrack as Wales take the field. The teams line up for the anthems and give it plenty.

It’s honking down with rain in Cardiff. Not sure who this works out better for. Plants probably.

Let me know what you think either on email or tweet. I’ll take anything, including the usual insults.


Pivac welcomes the availability of Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins and Dan Biggar by slotting them straight into the starting line-up. Rhys Carré is into start at loose-head while Will Rowlands and Ellis Jenkins - back from his huge injury lay-off - replace the injured AWJ and Ross Moriarty.

The subs might as well be sitting on a dry-stone wall, such is the cobbled together nature of the forwards on it in particular.

South Africa make four changes to the team that beat NZ a few weeks back. Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel (on the wing?!) and Herschel Jantjies all start while Cobus Reinach will join from the bench.

Wales: Johnny McNicholl; Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonathan Davies (captain), Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carré, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Ellis Jenkins, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Wyn Jones, WillGriff John, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams.

South Africa: Damian Willemse; Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handré Pollard, Herschel Jantjies; Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn.


In the latest installment of what I presume must be the Welsh Rugby Union enjoying making life difficult for their national team, Wales follow up last week’s tuning against the best team in the world by this week facing the second best. No easing your way into the Autumn like England, Ireland and Scotland, I’m afraid the WRU have a hotel to pay for.

Wayne Pivac will have a few more players to pick from this time around, although the nett effect is arguably evens given the injuries sustained by Alun-Wyn Jones and Ross Moriarty against New Zealand.

The home side can take some comfort from the fact that South Africa have not won in Cardiff since 2013; the Southern Hemisphere hoodoo does not appear to have the power of the Kiwis and the Wallabies here. But all of those home Welsh victories were under the Gatland regime and South Africa are a different outfit to the class of 2013-2018.


Lee Calvert

The GuardianTramp

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