SOUTH AFRICA 34, WALES 19
Wales skipper Colin Charvis has urged his young guns to stand "toe to toe"
with the Springboks in the second Test in Cape Town on Saturday.
Having seen his side lose a dream start and slip to a five tries to two defeat in Bloemfontein, the Swansea No 8 was full of praise for his team.
"We knew the Boks would get stronger and stronger, and that showed when
they got those tries in the second half," said Charvis.
"But we can take a lot of comfort from the fact we have improved from the
Six Nations. A lot of the players showed more pride in their jerseys and we were on an even level with them for a long period of the game.
"They will be stronger and harder in Cape Town next weekend and we will
have to stand toe to toe with them.
"This team had been written off before we came to South Africa and we knew
we had something to prove. All the young guys wanted to show what they
could do and their enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone else.
"We will recover from this game and see how much more we can improve in Cape Town."
By the end of the game, Wales coach Steve Hansen had blooded five new caps, but none of them shone brighter than the man who became Wales' 1,000th international, Michael Owen.
The only new cap in the starting line-up, the Pontypridd back row man made
a dream debut as he provided Wales with a great tail of the line option at the line out, drove well in the lose and tackled his heart out. No wonder Hansen was drooling over his performance.
"Michael has a big futre. We have taken our time to bring him in, but if he
carries on like this he's going to cement himself into the side for a long
time," said Hansen.
"He gives us a great option at the line-out and he doesn't make many mistakes.
I also thought that Dwayne Peel was outstanding at scrum half - he made a
real statement on his first full outing."
Charvis' men totally dominated the opening 30 minutes and finally looked
as though they were getting to grips with the Hansen style. They knocked the
Springboks out of their stride upfront with a marvellous opening quarter and hit them for six with Craig Morgan's opening try after only seven minutes.
The forwards moved the ball through 10 phases of play in the build up to that stunnign score and the Cardiff wing could have had a hat-trick in the opening 16 minutes but for a few unkind bounces.
It simply got better and better for the well organised Welsh side as Stephen
Jones kicked a penalty to make it 8-0 and then replied instantly to Andre
Pretorius' penalty with a drop goal.
New Springbok coach Rudi Straueli's side were under the cosh and were in
desperate need of a spark to get them going. It was finally provided by
Western Stormers scrum half Johannes Conradie, who took it upon himself to spark a change in fortunes.
It was his quickly taken penalty in the Welsh 22 that created enough havoc in
the until then solid red defence to allow Marius Joubert to power past Kevin Morgan for a vital try.
He did same after the break to create a penalty try and enjoyed the sort of
debut that gave creedance to his new status as the pin-up boy of South
If that Joubert try brought a huge sigh of relief from the home crowd, there
was even more cheer moments later when skipper Bobbie Skinstad made it two
tries in seven minutes at the end of the first half to give his side a lead they were never to lose.
The home side settled down in the second half and produced three more tries.
Even though Jones reduced the gap to a single point with a 44th minute penalty, the introduction of Brent Russell at outside half made a huge difference to the back line movement.
Giant lock Victor Matfield touched down from a line out drie and then the
penalty try was awarded against Jones for an early tackle on Paulse as they
chased Conradie's neat kick ahead.
It all looked over for Wales, but Colin Charvis rallied his troops and helped Rhys Williams to score in the corner as he linked with Robin McBryde to create an overlap.
There may have been a fifth Boks try through replacement prop Faan
Rautenbach at the death, but there was enough fire in the Welsh side to keep interest alive in next weekend's second Test in Cape Town.
In fact, it was the home side were were defending desperately in the closing mmonets as first Kevin Morgan was hauled down at the left corner and then Charvis crossed the line from a maul only to be brought back for running into Iestyn Thomas on the way.
Scorers: South Africa: Tries; M Joubert, B Skinstad, V Matfield, F
Rautenbach, penalty try; Cons: A Pretorius 3; Pen: A Pretorius. Wales:
Tries: C Morgan, R Williams; Pens: S Jones 2; DG: S Jones.
South Africa: R Loubscher (Natal Sharks); S Terblanche (Natal Sharks), M
Joubert (Western Stormers), A Snyman (Natal Sharks), B Paulse (Western
Stormers); A Pretorius (Cats), J Conradie (Western Stormers); D Human
(Western Stormers), J Dalton (Blue Bulls), W Meyer (Cats), J Labuschagne
(Cats), V Matfield (Blue Bulls), W Britz (Natal Sharks), AJ Venter (Natal
Sharks), B Skinstad (Western Stormers, capt)
Replacements: O Le Roux (Natal Sharks) for Dalton 70; F Rautenbach (Western
Stormers) for Meyer 57; J van Niekirk (Cats) for Britz 62; A Jacobs (Blue
Bulls) for Snyman 73; B Russell (Mpulamanga Pumas) for Loubscher 47.
Wales: K Morgan (Swansea); R Williams (Cardiff), M Taylor (Swansea), A
Marinos (Newport), C Morgan (Cardiff); S Jones (Llanelli), D Peel (Llanelli);
I Thomas (Llanelli), R McBryde (Llanelli), B Evans (Swansea), G Llewellyn (Neath), S Williams (Northampton), M Owen (Pontypridd), M Williams (Cardiff), C Charvis (Swansea, capt)
M Madden (Llanelli) for Evans 77; R Sidoli (Pontypridd) for Llewellyn 62;
R Parks (Pontypridd) for Martyn Williams 62; R Powell (Cardiff) for Peel 78; N Jenkins (Cardiff) for Jones 77; T Shanklin (Saracens) for Marinos 70
The WRU has teamed up with Crawshay's to tour Georgia in June. The side, which will be called the Crawshays WRU President's XV, will play Emerging Georgia twice, in a tour which supports the Welsh Government's efforts to grow relations between the two countries.
Wales Sevens are looking to re-group after a disappointing tournament last time out in South Africa. The next double leg in New Zealand and Las Vegas offers Gareth Williams a chance to redeem themselves.
Wales Women's head coach Rhys Edwards was at Llandovery to see the conclusion of an entertaining Women's Regional championship where any one of three teams were in contention for title glory on the last day of action.
Christmas has come early at Glynneath rugby club, one of a number around Wales who have received an array of merchandise and equipment this December courtesy of the Welsh Rugby Union's £750,000 participation points scheme.
The WRU have been delivering on the scheme - which gives individual clubs access to up to £5,000 worth of supplies and equipment each for the 2014/2015 season - over the last two weeks and today (Friday) were received by a special guest in Glynneath, club president and pitch marker Max Boyce.