Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Wales hooker Scott Baldwin wary of 'wounded beast' South Africa

Published 20/11/2016

Wales hooker Scott Baldwin believes South Africa will be
Wales hooker Scott Baldwin believes South Africa will be "a wounded beast" in next Saturday's Test match at the Principality Stadium

Scott Baldwin has warned Wales to expect "a wounded beast" when South Africa arrive in Cardiff on a face-saving mission next weekend.

While woeful Wales played a get-out-of-jail card courtesy of Sam Davies' late drop-goal to beat Japan 33-30 on Saturday, the Springboks floundered in Florence, being defeated by Italy for the first time in Test match history.

So bad were the Springboks that South African Rugby president Mark Alexander released a hard-hitting statement after the game, when he highlighted "deeply worrying aspects" of performances this year that have also included a record home loss against New Zealand and a 30-point thumping by England.

"The whole of South African rugby is extremely disappointed with this year's Springbok results and deeply worrying aspects of the performances," Alexander said, in a statement posted on the official SA Rugby website.

"It has not been good enough, and no-one is pretending otherwise.

"It would be easy to lay the blame for that at one door or another and look for scapegoats, but it would also be an oversimplification.

"All of us within South African rugby need to look at ourselves and ask what we could have done differently in aid of the Springbok cause.

"Those questions will be asked at the end of the season when we will undertake a full review of the year and what new interventions may be needed to turn things around.

"We have a Test against Wales on Saturday, and then we will review the season and spend time determining a path for the future."

If South Africa want to seek any consolation this week, though, it can probably be found in the fact that Wales look equally poor.

Had Test rookie Davies not come up trumps 10 seconds from time, Wales would have been held at home by a team world-ranked five places below them before kick-off and who were without a number of leading players.

Japan matched their highest points total against Wales and shared the try-count 3-3 as they displayed a superior attacking outlook to opponents devoid of ideas and lacking composure. Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley was not alone in his opinion that the best team lost.

A Wales starting XV containing seven British and Irish Lions Test players led Japan 14-6 and 24-13, but still could not avoid a nerve-shredding finale that saw former world junior player of the year Davies deliver the goods for a 73,000 crowd.

Wales hooker Baldwin said: "South Africa are going to come here as a wounded beast. But it is also a kick up the backside for us, and we know we have to put in a much better shift next week to get a result.

"If you look at our game against Australia (Wales lost 32-8 a fortnight ago) when we left with our tail between our legs, we fronted up against Argentina the following week, and I think that is what they (South Africa) will be trying to do.

"Last time they came here in 2014 we got a result, and it is on us to do it again.

"The ambition is there, but for some reason we are just not clicking.

"In fairness to the coaches, we are doing a lot of skill work in training, a lot of off-load work, skills under pressure and stuff like that, and as players we have got to look at ourselves in how we control the game when we are on the pitch.

"When the whistle goes at 2.30pm it is up to us to manage the game, and we need to manage it better. It was a disappointing game in nearly every aspect."

Bizarrely, given their dismal form, victory over the Springboks would mean Wales winning three out of four autumn Tests this season, which is a feat they have not accomplished since 2002.

"We probably won't forget the Australia game and how much of a bad loss that was," Baldwin added. "But it would probably be a satisfying autumn, I wouldn't say a good one."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph