Wales’s Tipuric seals wretched year for South Africa


Justin Tipuric’s try five minutes from time completed a 27-13 Wales victory over South Africa that piled pressure on beleaguered coach Allister Coetzee.

Hooker Ken Owens also crossed in a match where fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicked 17 points as Wales beat South Africa for just the third time in 32 Tests.

A lacklustre first half where neither side threatened a try ended with Wales 12-6 in front after Halfpenny kicked four penalties to two from South Africa fly-half Elton Jantjies.

Wales were comfortably placed at 20-6 up with 11 minutes left but Test debutant Uzair Cassiem’s converted try gave the Springboks hope.

Back row Tipuric stopped any thoughts of a comeback, however, with a well-taken score that helped give Wales their record margin of victory over the Springboks.

Defeat meant South Africa had lost eight of their 12 internationals in 2016 — their worst full year since they returned from apartheid-enforced isolation.

The result was a new blow for Coetzee, who took over after South Africa finished third at last year’s World Cup.

Within minutes of the full-time whistle at the Principality Stadium, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander announced a review into the season and an overhaul of South African rugby.

“It has been a profoundly disappointing season in terms of results and we are acutely aware that we have failed to live up to the Springboks’ proud heritage,” said Alexander.

Victory also meant Wales had won three of their four November Tests after a thumping 32-8 defeat by Australia was followed by narrow wins over Argentina (24-20) and Japan (33-30).

Success eased the pressure on Wales coach Rob Howley, deputising while Warren Gatland is seconded to the British and Irish Lions.

“I think we were quite comfortable for 80 minutes,” Howley told the BBC.

“For five weeks the players have given everything, they have been training well and it is nice to transfer that into the final game.”

Following the last-gasp win over Japan, Howley reverted to the bulk of the side that beat Argentina 24-20 a fortnight ago, the only exception seeing Dan Lydiate replace injured captain Sam Warburton in the back row.

Veteran prop Gethin Jenins led the side in Warburton’s absence.

Coetzee responded to the Springboks’ maiden defeat by Italy, a 20-18 loss in Florence last week, by dropping Bryan Habana, with the wing great not even on the bench.

He also included three debutants in wing Jamba Ulengo, centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg and back row Cassiem.

Coetzee also changed his half-back pairing, with scrum-half Faf de Klerk alongside Jantjies, while Johan Goosen was at fullback.

Wales’s starting XV boasted 811 caps compared to the Springboks’ mere 260.

Yet Jantjies gave South Africa an early 3-0 lead beneath the stadium’s closed roof after the first scrum led to a Springbok penalty.

Five minutes later, Wales equalised when Halfpenny was on target from 45 metres, and Halfpenny punished South Africa again only for Jantjies to respond with his second penalty moments later.

A rare first-half moment of excitement in a slow-paced match saw Wales centre Jonathan Davies, handing off South Africa lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, take the hosts to within five metres of the Springboks’ line.

The visitors won the ensuing line-out but gifted Halfpenny another penalty before the break when, following a Ruan Combrinck knock-on, South Africa recovered the ball in an offside position.

– Lydiate blow –

Just before half-time, Wales flanker Dan Lydiate went off with a knee injury and was replaced by Taulupe Faletau.

The start of the second period saw South Africa reduced to 14 men when De Klerk was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.

Inevitably, Halfpenny kicked the resulting penalty.

Worse followed for the Springboks when Wales scored their first try.

Fly-half Dan Biggar kicked a penalty for a line-out some 15 metres out and, from the ensuing line-out, Owens was driven over to make it 20-6 to Wales.

Surprisingly, Halfpenny missed the conversion but Wales still had a healthy lead.

Sustained South Africa pressure saw Cassiem go over in the 69th minute.

But Wales hit back when Tipuric’s angled run from the edge of the 22 saw him slice through South Africa’s cover defence.

© 2016 AFP

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