South Africa 30-14 Wales: Handre Pollard shines in third Test decider as Springboks seal series win

·3-min read
South Africa 30-14 Wales: Handre Pollard shines in third Test decider as Springboks seal series win

Wales’ bid for a series win in South Africa fell at the final hurdle as the Springboks delivered in the third Test with a 30-14 victory.

The series was on the line going into the decider in Cape Town, with South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber recalling eight of South Africa’s 2019 World Cup-winning team after Wales levelled things up a week ago.

It proved the right call as South the Springboks took the series 2-1 through tries from Handre Pollard, Bongi Mbonambi and Siya Kolisi, with Pollard kicking three conversions and three penalties for a 20-point haul.

Wales battled hard throughout and their defensive resistance often proved heroic, but they could only muster a Tommy Reffell try and three penalties from captain Dan Biggar as they missed out on matching series success for Ireland in New Zealand and England in Australia earlier in the day.

Just four months after losing at home to Italy in the Guinness Six Nations, Wales will view the tour as being successful in so many ways, particularly with one eye on next year’s World Cup.

And they also made history through their victory in Bloemfontein that saw them become the first Wales team to beat the Springboks on South African soil.

Ultimately, though, South Africa had too much in the tank for a Wales team that gave it everything and generated plenty of optimism for Pivac as the World Cup countdown continues.

Wales suffered a late blow when number eight Taulupe Faletau was ruled out after the warm-up, suffering an injury to his side, with Josh Navidi replacing him and Taine Basham joining the substitutes. The loss of such an experienced operator as Faletau would have hit Wales hard, and they almost fell behind in the fourth minute.

Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am kicked into space and wing Makazole Mapimpi gathered before crossing Wales’ line, but replays showed his left foot in touch and the try was rightly ruled out.

Pollard then kicked a short-range penalty, and there was a real intensity about South Africa, with full-back Damian Willemse and Damian de Allende both going close to touching down before relentless pressure was rewarded through a Pollard try that he also converted.

A slippery playing surface made life difficult for both teams, but Wales showed plenty of character and scored from their first attack when Reffell claimed his first Test try following strong approach work by Adams and George North.

Tommy Reffell’s try got Wales back into the match in the first-half (REUTERS)
Tommy Reffell’s try got Wales back into the match in the first-half (REUTERS)

Biggar kicked a penalty seven minutes before half-time, but South Africa then struck from a close-range lineout, driving Wales defenders backwards before Mbonambi touched down to mark his 50th cap in style. Pollard added the conversion, and Wales arrived at the interval facing a 17-8 deficit.

Pivac made two changes for the second period, sending on hooker Dewi Lake and prop Sam Wainwright, and another Biggar penalty cut the gap to six points.

South Africa should have scored a third try shortly afterwards, but scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse’s pass was adjudged forward and Am was denied after breaching Wales’ defence.

Biggar slotted a third penalty after 48 minutes, yet South Africa responded within five minutes through a Kolisi try that Pollard converted, and the Springboks led 24-14.

And two more Pollard penalties in the final minutes closed out the game as South Africa ensured a winning send-off into their Rugby Championship campaign that begins against New Zealand in three weeks’ time.

Additional reporting by PA Sport.

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