Wales grind out win over Springboks

Wales ended a six-year wait for a southern hemisphere scalp when they beat South Africa 12-6 on Saturday to ease the pressure on under-fire coach Warren Gatland.


Four Leigh Halfpenny penalties were enough to get past Pat Lambie’s two in a try-less, tense match at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Under Gatland, Wales had previously only ever beaten Australia (21-18, in November 2008) from the SANZAR trio also including the Springboks and All Blacks in 27 matches since he took charge in 2007.

The victory in Cardiff was also only Wales’ second-ever over South Africa in 30 matches, the first coming in 1999, with one match drawn in 1970.

It rounded off an autumn series for Wales that featured defeats by Australia (33-28) and New Zealand (34-16) sandwiching a narrow win over Fiji (17-13).

The defeat left the Springboks, the sole team to have inflicted a loss on New Zealand this year, with a November record of two wins (England, 31-28; Italy, 22-6) and two losses, having also gone down 29-15 to Ireland.

Wales, for whom prop Gethin Jenkins was outstanding in defence, were unable to capitalise on early possession and territory and properly utilise the attacking line-out.

That, combined with a lack of creativity out wide, and some hard Springbok running opened up a slugfest as each side struggled to get a foothold in the game where defence was king.

The Springboks were dealt a blow when captain Jean de Villiers was stretchered off midway through the second half with what looked like a nasty knee injury.

And winger Cornal Hendricks was then shown a yellow card for taking out Halfpenny in the air, referee Lacey making his decision after seeing footage on the stadium’s giant screens.

Wales continued to press but failed to make the most of an attacking scrum after fullback Willie le Roux fumbled a botched drop-goal attempt by Biggar.

But South Africa ran out of steam, allowing Wales to hold on and Gatland breathe a sigh of relief.

Wales fly-half and man-of-the-match Dan Biggar said the win “means everything”.

“All the narrow defeats we’ve had, and this makes it worth it,” he told BBC. “We always seem to do it the hard way. Yes, we had doubts.

“We’ve thrown it away so many times in the past, but we got there today and this could really help us move forward. Great relief.”

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