Wales clinch narrow victory over South Africa in Washington
A late try from Ryan Elias saw out the 22-20 win.
Wales scored three tries to beat South Africa 22-20 at the RFK Stadium in Washington to kick-off their summer tour with a thrilling victory.
Warren Gatland’s side crossed through Hallam Amos and Tomos Williams and Ryan Elias came up with a crucial late effort as Gareth Anscombe kicked seven points.
The Springboks scored two tries of their own with Travis Ismaiel and Makazole Mapimpi, both men crossing on their Test debuts.
The staging of the game was criticised in some quarters with both sides without a host of first-choice players.
Elton Jantjies opened the scoring for South Africa with a straightforward penalty after Tom Prydie had sealed off at the preceding ruck.
Wales were dealt a severe blow when wing Steffan Evans left the field injured after appearing to damage his knee.
With the game descending into a slugfest, Wales scored two tries in three minutes to take control of the match.
The first try came as a result of captain Ellis Jenkins pinching the ball from the ruck in the South African 22. The ball was recycled with Hadleigh Parkes, who had replaced Evans, and Ross Moriarty showing good hands to put Dragons full-back Amos over.
Wales now had the bit between their teeth and after stringing some phases together, Cardiff Blues scrum half Williams wriggled his way over the try line to score on his international debut. Anscombe converted both scores.
The Springboks pushed hard to narrow the deficit on the stroke of half time with a series of powerful surges on the Wales line. But openside flanker Jenkins was again to the fore winning a penalty at the breakdown, meaning Wales turned around 14-3 ahead at the interval.
It took only three minutes of the second half for South Africa to cross the whitewash with Ismaiel intercepting a loose pass from Amos to run in unopposed.
But Anscombe further extended Wales’ lead with a penalty attempt after the Springboks had infringed at the tackle area.
And that is it. A knock-on ends the match with the Boks on the attack, and Wales have won it by 22-20 in Washington DC - congrats @WelshRugbyUnion on a good win.— South African Rugby (@Springboks) June 2, 2018
Not the start the Boks would have wanted, but this young team can hold their heads high after a good fight back in the second half. A total of 13 players made their Test debuts for SA today, which bodes well for the future.— South African Rugby (@Springboks) June 2, 2018
Wales butchered a clear try-scoring opportunity when number eight Ross Moriarty charged clean through. The ball was recycled only for Owen Watkin to knock the ball forward with four men outside him.
Gatland’s side were then reduced to 14 men when Watkin was sent to the sin bin for deliberately knocking the ball over his own dead ball line after being pressured by Jesse Kriel.
After a series of dominant scrums, Mapimpi crossed at the far left-hand corner with Jantjies successful with a touchline conversion, meaning the scores were level at 17-17 going into the final quarter.
The South African forwards began to dominate their Welsh opponents as they attempted to drive their way over the try line.
With Wales under severe pressure, Ismaiel appeared to cross at the right-hand corner but was forced into touch by Cory Hill.
Jantjies’ replacement Robert Du Preez put South Africa into the lead with a penalty attempt from right in front of the posts after their forwards destroyed the Wales scrum.
But just as the Springboks looked to be heading for victory, Elias touched down for Wales after a charge down from Williams.
The Springboks pushed hard for the win, but Wales held out to record a notable victory.