For 7src-odd minutes in Bloemfontein, Wales had barely thrown a punch at the Springboks – let alone landed one.
Struggling to deal with South Africa’s aggressive defence, Wales didn’t have the power to assert themselves on the gainline. As a result, they struggled to make inroads for much of the match, often resorting to forcing passes in a bid to find the South African edge.
Even with the numerous changes, it was an attacking ploy that South Africa had little trouble dealing with. However, as the match wore on, Wales – like they often have done in the past – resembled a discarded piece of chewing gum.
Read more:Wales v South Africa winners and losers as Alun Wyn Jones gets justice and Springboks coach eats his words
Not exactly nice or appetising to look at, but you try getting it off your shoe. South Africa, despite building a 12-3 lead and benefitting from a contentious yellow card for Alun Wyn Jones, couldn’t manage that.
As the clock ticked towards 8src minutes, it became clear this inexperienced South African side, despite having been doing all the punching, was wobbling a little. With the lead reduced to six points, they suddenly became wary that they’d not ended this fight yet and seemed apprehensive that Wales, despite offering little to that point, were within punching distance of the Boks’ jaw.
Even so, Wales’ slightly impromptu rope-a-dope had shown no real signs of delivering a 12th round haymaker. But then, with just four minutes on the clock, they found the decisive blow.
What was most pleasing is it wasn’t just pulled out of a hat. No, this was a finely crafted blow – one that even drew from past experience of beating the Boks. In the space of 57 seconds, Wales had forged a winning score to make history.
It all began with debutant Sam Wainwright staying square in the scrum as Springbok prop Ntuthuko Mchunu walked around to concede the penalty. If Wainwright ever has to buy a pint in his village of Bodelwyddan again, it’s a travesty.
From that penalty, Dewi Lake’s lineout hit its mark and Wales got rumbling towards the line with the same ferocity and velocity as their late score in Pretoria last week. Unlike last weekend, this maul ground to a halt – illegally – within mere seconds. Penalty advantage coming.
But Wales aren’t bothered by that. They sense the opportunity will come with patient pressure. So they revert to a tight carrying game near the Bok
…. to be continued
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