South Africa scored two late tries to break Wales’ hearts 31-30 and claim a 2-0 series victory on Saturday in Nelspruit. After a cagey start by both sides it was the visitors who opened the scoring after 12 minutes when Dan Biggar put over a penalty. Matters worsened for the hosts when centre Jamie Roberts crossed the whitewash six minutes later. Biggar added the two points and after 19 minutes it was 10-0 to the Welsh, who were still seeking their first win over the Springboks on South African soil.
The Dragons were truly breathing fire in Mpumalanga. The Boks continued to feel the heat when wing Alex Cuthbert showed a clean pair of heels to go over for his team’s second try of the afternoon. Biggar converted and Heyneke Meyer must have started to worry at 17-0 down after 22 minutes.
Referee Steve Walsh dished out a yellow card to Luke Charteris after the Welsh lock barrelled into the side of a maul and brought it down. Three minutes later the tourists were down to 13 men when Biggar was shown a yellow too. South Africa took advantage of the numerical advantage and overpowered the Wales scrum immediately to win a penalty try which Morne Steyn easily converted.
Meyer’s men then performed an 80-metre special. JP Pietersen broke through the Dragons defence from his own 22 before feeding Willie Le Roux who beat two defenders before putting Cornall Hendricks through to score. Steyn converted and the Boks were back in it although trailing 17-14 at the break.
The Dragons came out even more determined in the second half. Hooker Ken Owens went over as the British nation continued their dominance on the day and after the conversion by Biggar it was 24-14 at the Mbombela Stadium. Ten minutes later Steyn would slot a penalty to bring the hosts back to within touching distance, trailing 24-17.
However just 60 seconds later it was 27-17 thanks to a Biggar penalty who repeated this feat nine minutes later and the Welsh would hold on to this 30-17 lead until the 71st minute when whizz kid Le Roux scored South Africa’s third try of the afternoon and after Steyn’s conversion the match was set up for an enthralling final nine minutes. Six minutes later Springbok pressure paid off again and Walsh awarded a second penalty try of the afternoon to the home team. Steyn made no mistake and the Boks held out for the last three minutes to secure a 31-30 win which hands them the series but also maintains their unbeaten record on home soil against Wales.