South Africa are through to the Rugby World Cup semi finals after edging Wales 23-19 in a tense match at Twickenham. With the lead changing hands several times it was Springbok captain Fourie du Preez’s try six minutes from time that finally secured the win for South Africa.
Springboks Edge Wales in Tight Quarter Final
Wales started the match on the front foot and were looking dangerous attacking the South African line. However a good chance was wasted as Gethin Jenkins pass was too high for Tyler Morgan and went into touch. South Africa were the first to get points on the board as George North was penalised and Handre Pollard gave the Springboks a 3-0 lead. Pollard doubled the lead five minutes later after Alun Wyn Jones failed to roll away at the tackle.
Wales fought back and were awarded a chance to get off the mark as Dan Biggar slotted a penalty in front of the posts. More ill-discipline from the Welsh gave Pollard a chance to restore South Africa’s six point lead. Both teams were looking to test the opposition with the boot throughout the match and Dan Biggar carved out the games first try with one such attempt. Gathering his own up and under Biggar attacked the South African line before off loading to scrum half Gareth Davies who scored under the posts. Biggar added the conversion to give Wales a 10-9 lead. Wales lead did not last long as from the restart they gave away a penalty and Pollard put the Springboks back in front.
Both teams looked to get gain an advantage throughout the remainder of the first half but mistakes and key turnovers meant neither side could get the foothold they were after. Wales were given the chance to take the lead just before half time but Dan Biggar’s penalty hit the post. Biggar quickly made amends though as a good chase put the Springboks under pressure and Wales regain the ball. With time expired on the first half Biggar hit a drop goal to send Wales into half time with a 13-12 lead.
Soon after the interval South Africa were presented with an opportunity to retake the lead, however Pollard could not convert the penalty and the Springboks were punished soon after as Schalk Burger was penalised for obstruction at the ruck. Dan Biggar stepped up and extended Wales lead to 16-12.
After a period of sustained pressure in the Wales 22 Pollard hit a drop goal to turn the pressure into points and reduce the deficit to one point. The Springboks continued to press forward with the back row of Burger, Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen all carrying well. Pollard missed a second penalty but the Welsh defence held firm as the pressure mounted, keeping Bryan Habana out after a good break from full back Willie Le Roux. Pollard put his two previous misses behind him to put South Africa in front for the first time in the second half, before Biggar answered straight back with a penalty of his own to restore Wales one point lead. South Africa pressed forward looking for that winning score but with 10 minutes remaining the Welsh defence held firm and found turnovers at the right time. With five minutes remaining South Africa made the key break through, Vermeulen picked up at the base of the scrum and off loaded to Fourie du Preez who sprinted in to score in the corner. Wales searched for a breakthrough in the final few minutes, but the Springbok defence was stout and the Welsh never got near the try to take the win.
Wales will be heartbroken at this defeat, leading with less than 10 minutes to go and have the match snatched away from them. Wales had several players who played the game of their lives making tackle after tackle, with Dan Biggar standing out among them. The Springboks on the other hand move on to next week’s semi final but will need to find a bit more penetration in attack if there are to reach the final.