South Africa too strong for Wales in first Test since World Cup triumph

On the attack: <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:South Africa;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">South Africa</a> wing Makazole Mapimpi takes on <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Wales;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Wales</a> centre Mason Grady at Twickenham (Glyn KIRK)

South Africa saw off a gutsy Wales 41-13 at Twickenham on Saturday in their first match since winning a record fourth World Cup.

An extraordinary first-half of three yellow cards -- two for Wales and one for South Africa -- ended with the Springboks just a point ahead at 14-13.

But the Springboks 'won' the second half 27-0.

Double World Cup-winning wing Makazole Mapimpi's try soon after the interval settled Springbok nerves before replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi crossed in the 69th minute.

Debutant wing Edwill van der Merwe, the player of the match, then cut through Wales' defence to add a fifth try for the Springboks five minutes from time.

Wales suffered a seventh successive loss -- a run that includes a Six Nations wooden spoon.

Both teams were under-strength due to injuries and club commitments, with players at overseas teams not required to be released for a one-off Test taking place outside World Rugby's international window.

"So, all in all, the weather is good and it's nice to win and entertain," said Springbok boss Rassie Erasmus. "But we needed strong opposition, playing away from home, and to be under a little bit of pressure. And I think this one (match) is going to give us a lot."

The Springboks were without regular captain Siya Kolisi, Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Handre Pollard.

Only 10 of the Springboks' World Cup final in October matchday 23 were on show but their starting XV still included  scrum-half Faf de Klerk, lock Eben Etzebeth and prop Vincent Koch, who was winning his 50th cap.

Wales were missing the injured Tommy Reffell, Jac Morgan and Taulupe Faletau, as well as the unavailable Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza.

The Springboks, who prevailed in front of a crowd full of South Africa fans, were preparing for their two-match series at home to Ireland -- the only team to beat them at last year's World Cup in France.

Wales could take heart from a committed effort before they embark on a two-Test tour of Australia after avoiding the 'blow-out' loss forecast by many pundits.

- 'Finish them off' -

"There were lots of good things out there today, we created opportunities, but at this level you've got to finish them off," Wales coach Warren Gatland told S4C.

It was not long before South Africa went ahead.

Full-back Aphelele Fassi broke clear before centre Jesse Kriel exchanged passes with Mapimpi for a fourth-minute try converted by debutant fly-half Jordan Hendrikse.

Wales fly-half Sam Costelow's penalty reduced the Springbok lead but wing Rio Dyer was then yellow-carded for offside.

Wales were down to 13 men, No 8 Aaron Wainwright sin-binned for pulling down a Springbok maul from a line-out -- an offence that led to a penalty try as the world champions went 14-3 ahead.

Wales almost had a try when Liam Williams intercepted Hendrikse's pass before two excellent cover tackles by Van der Merwe prevented a score.

With Wales back to full strength, Fassi was yellow-carded on the half-hour after his boot caught Taine Plumtree in the face as he jumped for a high ball.

Wales made the advantage count moments later when captain Dewi Lake snaffled up a loose ball for a try.

Costelow's conversion and penalty reduced South Africa's lead to just a point.

The second half was only 88 seconds old when Mapimpi sped past a flat-footed Cam Winnet.

Hendrikse's difficult conversion and subsequent penalty pulled South Africa well-ahead at 24-13.

Debutant replacement Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu's penalty from just inside his own half extended the Springboks' lead before the world champions added two late tries.