Wales topple South Africa for ninth straight Test win

Wales made it four wins from four in the Autumn Tests as they battled past South Africa 20-11 at Principality Stadium.

Wales made it four wins from four in the Autumn Tests as they battled past South Africa 20-11 at Principality Stadium.

First half tries from Tomas Francis and Liam Williams gave Warren Gatland’s side a 14-3 lead at the break.

Jesse Kriel grabbed a score in the second half as the visitors piled on the pressure but they were unable to reel in Wales.

Six points in the last 12 minutes from replacement Dan Biggar helped the home side secure the win, their ninth in a row in Tests.

South Africa thought they had grabbed an early try through Pieter-Steph du Toit as a flat pass from Willie la Roux released the flanker who touched down but his foot was on the line.

But it was Wales who grabbed the first score, although from an unlikely source as prop Francis went over for his first ever international try.

Ellis Jenkins, a late replacement for the injured Dan Lydiate at blindside, got the break with a dummy to release the prop from five metres out to dive over with Gareth Anscombe adding the extras.

The home side increased their lead through full-back Williams, as the full-back crashed onto a Gareth Anscombe pass, before he evaded the covering defenders to touch down before the fly-half kicked the conversion to make it 14-0.

Springbok fly-half Handre Pollard notched a penalty from just inside the opposition half as he chipped into the Wales lead. He looked to add another after 25 minutes but sent his effort wide.

The hosts showed their defensive steel as they held out on their line to ensure it was 14-3 at half-time.

South Africa camped themselves in the Wales half in the 10 minutes after the break but were met with a solid red wall.

The visitors finally made their pressure pay after 55 minutes, as Kriel dived in unopposed on the left corner thanks to a whipped take-and-give pass from La Roux to make it 14-8.

A penalty from replacement Elton Jantjies brought South Africa within three points just after the hour mark.

Biggar was introduced for Anscombe and was straight into the action as he kicked a penalty to restore Wales six-point lead.

The replacement fly-half added another with eight minutes to go to give his side more breathing room before the end.

What they said

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said: “We’re very pleased with all the Ws but there are patches we have to work on.

“I think the character we have showed in these games, even Tonga irrelevant of the score-line, I think it’s the most pleasing thing.

“We can’t deny there is depth developing. Credit to the guys, the squad, not just the 23 today but the whole squad who have supported each other through the four tests.”

Player watch – Ellis Jenkins

Ellis Jenkins was a late addition to the Welsh line-up after Dan Lydiate suffered an injury in training on Thursday.

The Cardiff Blues back-rower filled in for Ross Moriarty at No. 8, giving him a chance to show his back-row versatility before the Six Nations.

He was more than a match for his strong South African counterparts, making 15 tackles and nine carries, not to mention his try saving defence on the line just before the break.

There is great competition for back row places in Warren Gatland’s side but Jenkins gave the kind of performance which could see him move up the pecking order.

Key moment – Wales defensive stand before half time

Wales were under heavy pressure from the Springboks just before the break.

Jesse Kriel thought he had scored for the visitors but was found to be held up with Ellis Jenkins arm under the ball.

The South Africans had another go after it went back for a penalty, but they lost possession from the resulting scrum meaning Wales went in 14-3 up at the break.   Stats Watch

– The game is Wales first international without Leigh Halfpenny or Dan Biggar in the line-up for eight years, with Gareth Anscombe taking on the kicking duties and getting four points.

– Tomas Francis try was his first for his country on his 36th appearance. It was also the first scored by any Wales prop against South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.

– The victory means it is nine victories in a row for Wales, their best run of results in the 21st century.