South Africa v Wales LIVE rugby: Result and reaction as Damian Willemse kicks Springboks to last-gasp win

·39 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Wales face South Africa in the first Test of their summer tour today.

Flanker Tommy Reffell, who helped Leicester Tigers win this season’s Gallagher Premiership title, will make his debut in the back-row alongside Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau. Lydiate and centre George North return to international rugby after more than a year away from the Test match arena because of serious knee injuries.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has opted for Will Rowlands and Adam Beard as the second-row partnership, meaning 150 times-capped Alun Wyn Jones is on the bench. Jones is joined among the replacements by fellow British and Irish Lions player Josh Navidi, with Tomos Williams providing scrum-half cover for Kieran Hardy.

Hardy is elevated to the starting XV as captain Dan Biggar’s half-back partner, with North joined in midfield by Saracens’ Nick Tompkins. For the hosts, Elton Jantjies lines up at 10 and Damian Willemse at 15 in the place of Handre Pollard and Willie le Roux respectively. Follow all the action below with our live blog:

South Africa vs Wales

  • 80’ - PENALTY! Willemse wins it with last kick of the game (32-29)

  • 77’ - TRY! Lake goes over to level the scores for 13-man Wales (29-29)

  • 75’ - TRY! Penalty try put Springboks ahead for first time and Wales reduced to 12 men (29-24)

  • 66’ - TRY! Kolbe goes over out wide (22-24)

  • 52’ - TRY! Marx barrels over for a second Boks try (15-18)

  • 46’ - TRY! Mbonambi mauls over to narrow the gap (10-18)

  • 32’ - TRY! Rees-Zammit goes over for his second try out of nothing (3-18)

  • 3’ - TRY! Rees-Zammit sprints over to give Wales shock lead (0-5)

  • Wales face world champions South Africa in first of three-match series

  • Welsh have lost all 10 of their previous matches in South Africa

F/T: South Africa 32-29 Wales

18:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A devastating defeat for Wales. They had done brilliantly to stay with South Africa, first stalling the Springboks’ fightback and then striking late to draw back level through Dewi Lake. But should Tomos Williams have kicked the ball back to South Africa with 30 seconds left? It offered a chance to win it, which Damian Willemse took.

F/T: South Africa 32-29 Wales

18:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dan Lydiate speaks to Sky Sports on Welsh heartbreak: “I’m pretty gutted to be honest. there were a lot of momentum shifts in that game, but we thought we had nicked it.

“Very disappointed after the Six Nations, we wanted to put a good performance in and restore some fight back into the jersey. But we came here to win. We’ll dust ourselves off and go again next week.

“It’s just a massive privilege to put the jersey on again, so hopefully I’ll get another chance to put it on.”

FULL TIME! SOUTH AFRICA 32-29 WALES

18:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

PENALTY! SOUTH AFRICA 32-29 Wales (Damian Willemse penalty, 83 minutes)

18:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

With the final kick, Damian Willemse snatches victory for South Africa!

South Africa 29-29 Wales, 81 minutes

18:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A deliberate knock on! Penalty to South Africa!

Makazole Mapimpi is screaming for the ball on the left wing for several phases. South Africa finally try the get the ball to him, but Wales condense the space well, and seem to have it handled...

Until Dan Biggar extends his right arm in the path of a pass and is rightly ruled to have deliberately knocked it on. Damian Willemse will have the chance to win it from 15-in on the left-hand side...

South Africa 29-29 Wales, 80 minutes

18:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales would quite fancy a draw at this stage, but dare not dally in their own half, kicking the ball back to South Africa.

Who run it back with interest. Cheslin Kolbe and Lukhanyo Am make merry progress down the right as the hooter blares.

South Africa 29-29 Wales, 79 minutes

18:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Alun Wyn Jones is back amongst things. Wales have 13 players on the field.

Surely that means space for South Africa? Possession is with the Springboks on halfway, the backs seeking those openings...ooh, is that the right choice from Damian de Allende? With time ticking by, he pokes a little grubber into touch.

TRY! South Africa 29-29 WALES (Dewi Lake try, 77 minutes)

18:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Try for Wales! The scores are level!

Remarkable fight from Wales. They maul strongly, replying in kind to the South African score with Dewi Lake sharp to spot space and ground.

Can Dan Biggar convert? No! 29-29 it remains.

South Africa 29-24 Wales, 76 minutes

18:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A blow for Wales, but could this be a glimmer of hope? South Africa penalised, and Dan Biggar kicks towards the corner...

18:06 , Luke Baker

PENALTY TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 29-24 Wales (75 minutes)

18:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Disaster for Wales, delight for South Africa!

The maul is again unstoppable from South Africa as the backs join in, and the awarding of the penalty try means a full seven-pointer and another Welsh player lost to the now rather crowded naughty step - Rhys Carre is given his marching orders with South Africa in the lead.

Yellow card! Louis Rees-Zammit is sent to the sin bin! South Africa 22-24 Wales, 74 minutes

18:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Amashukeli just wants to know Rees-Zammit’s number - he reckons that there is no clear release and Rees-Zammit has slowed the ball cynically as South Africa looked for a swift recycle after his tackle on le Roux.

Off Rees-Zammit goes, throwing something in disgust. South Africa kick to the corner.

South Africa 22-24 Wales, 74 minutes

18:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Yet every time South Africa attack they look like cracking Wales open. Cheslin Kolbe threatens to beat half of the Welsh defence by himself with a typically deadly meander. Damian Willemse dances into a hole and connects with Willie le Roux, who is held on to by Louis Rees-Zammit.

Jasper Wiese goes close, did he get it down? No! Fine work from Wales to hold him up. But Nika Amashukeli wants a chat with TMO Joy Neville...

South Africa 22-24 Wales, 73 minutes

18:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales must play in their own territory. First they survive the scrum rigours of a powerful South African drive and then create enough space for Dan Biggar to clear.

South Africa 22-24 Wales, 71 minutes

17:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nearly for South Africa, making rapid inroads up the left but the pass from Lukhanyo Am to Makazole Mapimpi drifts forwards. Herschel Jantjies is on for Faf de Klerk.

South Africa 22-24 Wales, 69 minutes

17:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eleven minutes left then, and Wales down to 14 players for most of what remains. Can they cling on to a first ever victory in South Africa?

A long kick from Damian de Allende is one roll from crossing the dead ball line, but just about stays in play, with George North forced to ground hastily as Cheslin Kolbe tries to steal in. Goalline dropout.

South Africa’s second debutant of the evening is Salmaan Moerat in the second row.

Yellow card! Alun Wyn Jones is sent to the sin bin! South Africa 22-24 Wales, 68 minutes

17:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Yes, immediately after the awarding of that score, Nika Amashukeli produced a yellow card, shown to Alun Wyn Jones. Not quite sure for what, but the Georgian referee is certain - Jones initially tries to return for the restart, but is told to sit back down.

TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 22-24 Wales (Cheslin Kolbe try, 66 minutes)

17:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa strike again! It is a try made by the back-row replacements, first Kwagga Smith all energy and enmity as he arrows into Josh Navidi from the back of the maul, then Elrigh Louw’s long, powerful frame driving to within five metres. Quick ball is efficiently moved to the left and then right.

Damian de Allende spots space in the right corner, prods into it, and Cheslin Kolbe has the simple job of gathering and scoring. Damian Willemse converts superbly - South Africa just two behind, and it seems they may be more bother for Wales...

South Africa 15-24 Wales, 65 minutes

17:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A loose ball is ruled out by the referee and South Africa nearly pounce. The lineout will be theirs just inside the Welsh 22.

PENALTY! South Africa 15-24 WALES (Dan Biggar penalty, 63 minutes

17:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And Dan Biggar duly adds three more from the tee. Wales again in front by more than a single converted score, with the intensity of the South African fightback very much dulled.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 15-21 Wales, 61 minutes

17:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Hints of open space for Will Rowlands and the big second row takes advantage, putting his foot down as he races on a leftward arc, producing a nifty show-and-go.

South Africa are penalised in an eminently kickable position...

South Africa 15-21 Wales, 59 minutes

17:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

De Klerk’s clearance isn’t the longest, but Wales get their maul wrong, making the basic error of straying too close to the touchline and all too easily chaperoned over it.

The visitors then close the gap at the lineout, with Kwagga Smith tapping quickly and charging forth into Dewi Lake, who stands him up well. Another error - de Klerk again off target with his box kick, which drifts out on the full.

South Africa 15-21 Wales, 58 minutes

17:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Louis Rees-Zammit chips deep in behind and then forms part of a Welsh blind alley that Willie le Roux rather runs down. Le Roux in the end does well to keep the ball alive long enough for support to arrive, enabling de Klerk to clear.

South Africa 15-21 Wales, 57 minutes

17:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Faf de Klerk looks to play the percentages, twice box kicking. The second one is directly diagonally for the corner, but tumbles on a roll or three too far, and out in touch in goal. All the way back Wales will come for a scrum feed on halfway.

Tomos Williams puts in having relieved Kieran Hardy.

PENALTY! South Africa 15-21 WALES (Dan Biggar penalty, 55 minutes)

17:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And the Welsh lead is doubled to six points by another clean Biggar strike.

South Africa 15-18 Wales, 54 minutes

17:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That might be a foothold that Wales need. Jasper Wiese runs into Alun Wyn Jones and Rhys Carre, a new arrival on the Welsh loosehead, with plenty of support - but all three South African support runners flop off their feet. Dan Biggar points to the posts.

TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 15-18 Wales (Malcolm Marx try, 51 minutes)

17:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another driving maul, and South Africa are over again!

This is the Springboks modus operandi, going to their power game to force their way back into the contest. Again Wales are powerless to quell the drive, Malcolm Marx hitting his jumper, sweeping to the back and riding in the motorcade all the way to the line. The conversion is missed.

South Africa 10-18 Wales, 50 minutes

17:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This isn’t nice for Tomas Francis. He had not long been on the field but appears in real, real strife. The tighthead is helped on to a cart to be taken off, head and neck protected. We wish him well.

South Africa 10-18 Wales, 50 minutes

17:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A brace of back-row changes for South Africa. Siya Kolisi is off, replaced by Kwagga Smith, and there is a debut for Elrigh Louw, a rather promising talent who enjoyed a fine season with the Bulls. Franco Mostert is the other departee.

Francis is still being seen to, with the stretcher out. Alun Wyn Jones is into the action for Wales, who still lead by eight but suddenly feel very much on the back foot.

Here’s Bongi Mbonambi’s maul score.

South Africa 10-18 Wales, 50 minutes

17:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Two more penalties against Wales, who are beginning to struggle to contain South Africa’s heavy artillery. Dan Biggar is again spoken to about his team’s discipline.

Tomas Francis appears to be down in some discomfort. It looks like his head collided with the sharp edge of Steven Kitshoff’s knee. After what happened at Twickenham, a worry for Francis, who must surely be removed.

South Africa 10-18 Wales, 49 minutes

17:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And momentum seems to have swung. First Lood de Jager makes a dynamite break up the right from the restart, before an accurate Damian Willemse high bomb lands in the hands of a leaping Dan Biggar, back from his spell in the bin, as South African bodies mob the Welsh captain. Penalty to the Springboks for holding on and another visit to the Wales 22.

TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 10-18 Wales (Bongi Mbonambi try, 46 minutes)

17:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And soon after the South Africa hooker is over! A powerful flexing of the mauling muscles from Bongi Mbonambi and the rest in South African green, Wales initially firm but helpless as the drive pivots away from the initial pressure point and down a pass of limited resistance.

Damian Willemse converts as Mbonambi delivers some instructions to Malcolm Marx, who will replace him at hooker. It looks like the rest of the front row “Bomb Squad” are on, too - welcome to Vincent Koch and Steven Kitshoff.

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 45 minutes

17:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales remain down to fourteen with still three minutes or so left on Dan Biggar’s yellow card period. They drive the South African maul into touch, but only thanks to a rather obvious side entry.

The Springboks will try again as Bongi Mbonambi lines up his throw...

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 44 minutes

17:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Sloppy from Wales. First their lineout is disrupted and then they take an age to clear their lines, Kieran Hardy’s box kick option shut down and quickly coralled. Ryan Elias carries with Dan Lydiate as a latcher, but the blindside fails to keep his feet, as is required under the law changes brought in last year.

South Africa kick to the corner, turning down three.

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 43 minutes

17:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A problem with the officials’ communications system will necessitate a pause, a technician trotting out to make sure that Nika Amashukeli can hear both of his assistants and Joy Neville in the TMO truck.

It is worth noting that Willemse, though a fine age-grade ten, has played little fly-half of late. It is a big gamble to task him with steering South Africa back into this - but Elton Jantjies did not have a first half to be proud of.

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 42 minutes

17:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This time the whistle is in Wales’ favour - Frans Malherbe’s jackal is legal, his two forward colleagues’ failure to roll away not.

But Liam Williams takes Willemse’s lead and misses touch with his punt.

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 41 minutes

17:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That isn’t the best start to Damian Willemse’s time at ten - he misses touch after South Africa are awarded a penalty.

Second half begins!

17:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ah - Willie le Roux is indeed on, and looking through the South African bodies out there, it does appear that it may be Elton Jantjies who has departed.

Back underway.

Second half nears

17:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Where do South Africa look to try and stabilise things? They could do with Handre Pollard, you’d say, to steady things at ten - would there be any temptation to push Damian Willemse forward and introduce Wille le Roux?

Louis Rees-Zammit’s second score

17:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It feels like Wales are yet to truly produce anything in attack, and, oddly, even this second score came from an ill-executed set-piece that appeared to offer good platform. Still, they all count.

H/T: South Africa 3-18 Wales

17:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Well well well. A dream half for Wales, who have taken all that a sloppy South Africa have thrown at them and pounced twice on loose balls to take what looks a significant 15-point lead. Defensively their physicality and organisation has been good, but they have been helped by the Springboks, who have been far below their best and whose game control has been found particularly wanting.

HALF TIME! SOUTH AFRICA 3-18 WALES

17:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 39 minutes

17:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But that is staunch defence from Wales! South Africa fancy a battle of mauling might, but in Adam Beard and Will Rowlands Wales have two drive detonators, and the locks wrestle their way on to the ball and ensure that a slight inwards steer will be the only movement of the South African eight.

One more secure scrum should see Wales to half-time...

Yellow card! Dan Biggar is sent to the sin bin! South Africa 3-18 Wales, 38 minutes

16:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales desperately kill the speed of South Africa’s ruck ball twice. South Africa again make a mess of their attack, but Nika Amashukeli brings them back for the first of those penalties...

And sends Dan Biggar to the sin bin! Out comes the yellow for the Welsh captain after cynically lying over the ball following that desperate retreating tackle. Wales down to 14 and South Africa kick to the corner.

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 37 minutes

16:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dan Biggar steps out of one tackle as he takes carrying duties after the scrum. But South AFrica attack three rucks in quick succession and at the third win the ball back.

That’s more like it from the Springboks! Damian Willemse gallops up the left touchline and feeds Faf de Klerk, who is just about hauled down from behind by Biggar deep inside the Welsh 22.

South Africa 3-18 Wales, 35 minutes

16:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa are going to need their Bomb Squad. It all looks a little disjointed from the Springboks, with Lood de Jager knocking on as he carries in midfield.

TRY! South Africa 3-18 WALES (Louis Rees-Zammit try, 33 minutes)

16:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another opportunistic score for Louis Rees-Zammit!

How’s your luck, Wales? This is a real curio of a try. Wales throw a long lineout over the top that falls into Elton Jantjies’ arms. The fly-half can’t gather cleanly, though scooping it backwards as he and Nick Tompkins play bumper cars, and then their tangled legs inadvertendly skewing the ball towards the South African line.

Rees-Zammit rushes on to it, collects after a welcome hop and dashes across the line for his second score. Dan Biggar’s conversion makes Wales’ lead all the prettier - and Loftus Versfeld falls silent.

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 31 minutes

16:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That is what Tommy Reffell can do! South Africa run the goalline dropout back with Damian Willemse punchy in the carry, but Lood de Janger is turtled soon after, allowing Reffell to scavenge over the top, and rewarded with the penalty.

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 30 minutes

16:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Maul they do, but Wales repel it strongly enough. A different approach, then - Damian de Allende over the gainline and then Eben Etzebeth, too. But South Africa are impatient, choosing not to continue with the close-in biffing and instead attack aerially, with Elton Jantjies dropping the ball on to his left peg and attempting to find Cheslin Kolbe on the right. Josh Adams leaps highest, and Liam Williams grounds in-goal. A slightly curious option from Jantjies.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 29 minutes

16:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa play the lineout quickly and attack with purpose. Elton Jantjies slithers through a gap and offloads to Ox Nche, who is dragged down five metres out. Wales jackal expertly but had earlier been less licit - penalty to South Africa for Taulupe Faletau’s tackle of Faf de Klerk from an offside position.

That all triggers another little scrap, Liam Williams right at the heart of things as he and Damian de Allende square up. Nika Amashukeli has a stern word for both captains to try and prevent further bickering. Elton Jantjies kicks onwards up the touchline, from where South Africa will surely maul.

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 28 minutes

16:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

De Klerk is again in the game as he falls theatrically on to his back after kicking a loose ball behind the Welsh defence and charging right into a big Welsh chest. Not called in his favour, rightly.

Wales get bodies back and clear.

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 26 minutes

16:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa are awarded a scrum free kick, and Kieran Hardy refuses to release the ball, which draws the ire of the Springbok forwards and the ever-spiky Faf de Klerk. Dan Biggar isn’t happy that the South African reaction is proportionate - after a bit of petty squabbling, South Africa will opt for a scrum ten metres further on with Hardy punished.

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 25 minutes

16:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Though Elton Jantjies’ faulty radar is proving rather helpful to the Welsh cause. This time it is a punt for the corner that drifts off line, and by a fine margin the wrong side of the corner flag. All the way back Wales will come with the scrum feed near halfway.

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 24 minutes

16:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eben Etzebeth runs into both Welsh props, Gareth Thomas and Dillon Lewis meeting the taller man square on, all parties driven up like colliding tectonic plates.

Wales have stood up strongly to the physical challenge, but discipline is becoming a slight issue - another penalty against the visitors.

Missed penalty! South Africa 3-11 Wales, 22 minutes

16:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not great from Jantjies. His first miss could be termed unfortunate but that’s one he’d have liked to make, particularly displeased as he wanders back into position having missed.

South Africa 3-11 Wales, 21 minutes

16:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not for the first time, Kieran Hardy gets himself into difficulty inside his own 22, and Wales don’t quite recover from there. Will Rowlands’ cleanout is illegal, referee Nika Amashukeli’s eyes and whistle sharp - and Elton Jantjies again calls for the tee.

PENALTY! South Africa 3-11 WALES (Dan Biggar penalty, 20 minutes)

16:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And Dan Biggar does indeed restore the eight-point lead from the tee with plenty of boot to spare.

South Africa 3-8 Wales, 18 minutes

16:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But South Africa’s narrowing of the gap may be brief as Lood de Jager makes a thumping tackle on a player without the ball...

PENALTY! SOUTH AFRICA 3-8 Wales (Elton Jantjies penalty, 17 minutes)

16:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A swift run-up, a sweet strike - South Africa up and running.

South Africa 0-8 Wales, 15 minutes

16:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, fluids on board and on we go. South Africa make progress after a lineout with Damian De Allende doing some trademark hard-trucking up the centre. Penalty advantage is not used to the Springboks’ benefit - Elton Jantjies will try again from the tee.

South Africa 0-8 Wales

16:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The players take a water break, which offers us a chance to have a look at Louis Rees-Zammit’s early score:

Missed penalty! South Africa 0-8 Wales, 14 minutes

16:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Off both posts! Not something you see too often as Jantjies’ kick first strikes the left-hand post, then the right, and back out into play into welcoming Welsh mitts.

South Africa 0-8 Wales, 12 minutes

16:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Round one at the scrum is won by South Africa - initially parity giving way to a slight Springboks nudge, and as it goes to floor it is Ox Nche rewarded for his work against Dillon Lewis.

Elton Jantjies will look to get South Africa’s scoring underway.

South Africa 0-8 Wales, 11 minutes

16:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This time Hardy does get the right amplitude, with Etzebeth again attempting a charge down.

Frans Malherbe topples awkwardly over the top of Taulupe Faletau and Dan Lydiate, who stoop incredibly low to try and stall the big tighthead. He lands on his head, but it is tough to see any fault on the part of the two Welsh back-rowers - a position also taken by the match officials after a brief check.

It will be a South African scrum on the left inside the Welsh half after Liam Williams had fumbled following an Elton Jantjies high bomb.

South Africa 0-8 Wales, 10 minutes

16:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It has been a very good start from Kieran Hardy, but that isn’t his best minute, manhandled by a little and large tag team of Cheslin Kolbe and Jasper Wiese, and then failing to clear Eben Etzebeth’s reach with his box kick. Hardy is lucky that the charge down skews into touch.

DROP GOAL! South Africa 0-8 WALES (Dan Biggar drop goal, 9 minutes)

16:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Is that over? It is! A moment of inspiration from Dan Biggar, forced to check on a pass from Kieran Hardy as Wales play aimlessly just inside the South African half. With options limited, he unfurls a long drop-goal, a little nine iron that collects a favourable breeze and drifts through the thin Loftus air, pitching down just beyond the crossbar.

South Africa 0-5 Wales, 8 minutes

16:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Wales thus kick deeper into South African territory but the lineout fails to function, and Wiese is soon doing what he does best, swatting away would-be tacklers as he bristles about.

South Africa 0-5 Wales, 7 minutes

16:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dan Biggar drives a low crossfield kick across to Josh Adams, who collects but can’t force his own kick beyond Cheslin Kolbe and co.

Soon ater, though, Jasper Wiese is picked out for a no-arms tackle - he has cleaned up his discipline significantly and this is not dirty, just a technical error as he tries to chop at the knees of the Welsh carrier.

South Africa 0-5 Wales, 5 minutes

16:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Makazole Mapimpi nearly gets up to win the latest aerial challenge after the restart, but Liam Williams clings on despite a rough landing on the hard Loftus turf. Kieran Hardy has been on the money with his box kicks so far, and again weights his well, enabling Wales to form a strong defensive line and force an errant Faf de Klerk pass that Lukhanyo Am can only carry into touch.

TRY! South Africa 0-5 WALES (Louis Rees-Zammit try, 3 minutes)

16:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

How’s that for a start? Just like that, Wales lead, striking first - and fast.

Will Rowlands disrupts Lood de Jager’s catch at the front of the lineout and the ball pops invitingly for Gareth Thomas at the front of the maul. A quick exchange of passes with Kieran Hardy and Rowlands stomps up the left touchline, cut down by Cheslin Kolbe.

With the South African defence retreating and narrow, Wales spin it to the right, sharp handling from Liam Williams putting Louis Rees-Zammit away with a sprint to line. As ever, there’s no catching him.

The conversion is missed.

South Africa 0-0 Wales, 1 minute

16:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Contrasting starts for the two number eights - Taulupe Faletau oh-so-secure under the kick-off, Jasper Wiese rather less so beneath Kieran Hardy’s box kick.

Damian Willemse also makes a hash of his catch as Hardy again looks to the sky, but only due to a bump from a Welsh player, who is penalised.

KICK OFF!

16:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa against Wales has begun!

Officials

16:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nika Amashukeli of Georgia is the referee today, with Ireland’s Joy Neville his TMO. After a bit of card drama in this morning’s action, what role might they play?

Elton Jantjies of South Africa will kick the action off...

Anthems

16:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The Welsh players stand proudly for “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, before Pretoria rises to its feet and joins in a stirring version of the South African national anthem. There are smiles on every fan in the place. They are loving being back after so long.

Remembering Phil Bennett

16:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Before the anthems, Loftus falls silent to remember the life of Phil Bennett. Wales are wearing black armbands this afternoon after the recent passing of one of the greats.

Here come South Africa

16:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And now Siya Kolisi and his Springboks, hearing the uplifting roar of the home crowd. The captain joins in energetic embrace for several of his teammates. Sounds a cracking atmosphere.

Wales emerge

16:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dan Biggar cuts a relaxed fiture as he leads his Welsh squad into and then out of the tunnel. This is a huge test but also a great opportunity for Wales - they are outsiders, but that may give them a freedom of approach which could be a useful refresh.

South Africa vs Wales

15:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It looks a gorgeous evening in Pretoria, though it will get a little chilly later as the sun sets on the Highveld evening. The pitch is a little pockmarked, but it really is lovely to see a South African ground close to full again.

South Africa vs Wales

15:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

You would have South Africa as strong favourites for both today’s game and the series, but Wales have had a habit of producing unexpected performances from low ebbs in recent years. They pushed the Springboks mighty close in November, and while they have never won on the hard tracks of South Africa, you’d be foolish to write them off:

Dan Biggar aware of ‘tough’ challenge facing Wales in South Africa

Jacques Nienaber also offers his pre-match thoughts

15:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“They are a tough side. The first time I coached against Wales was 2011 and since then they’ve beaten more than we’ve won.

“We can’t play on reputation. It is nice to have the crowds back, it is nearly three years since we last did that. Hopefully we can make the crowd proud.

“They will be well coached, and desperate. They are very good at disrupting your set pieces and they have a big backline.”

South Africa back in front of their fans

15:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This will be the first occasion since winning the World Cup that the South African players will have the chance to relish a home crowd. For their leader Siya Kolisi, it will be a particularly affiriming day after all they have achieved since they last played in front of their fans, and he and his teammates are aware of the threat that Wales will pose.

Siya Kolisi predicts physical clash with Wales side that ‘does not give an inch’

Wayne Pivac speaks to Sky Sports pre-match

15:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“They are very important. Every test match is important and in the last one we didn’t perform well. We’ve got used to the conditions.

“We’ve got to be disciplined in our set-piece, stop the juggernaut that South Africa are. We have got to make sure that physically we stand up.”

Team News - Wales

15:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Faces old and new catch the eye in the Welsh side tasked with rebounding from that defeat to Italy. Joining Taulupe Faletau is one of each: Dan Lydiate may be 34 but could suit a tough battle, while Tommy Reffell is rewarded for his strong Leicester form with a start on debut and is particularly proficient over the ball.

Back at 13 is George North, much missed during the Six Nations and adding further quality to what looks a fun backline. Not starting, notably, is Alun Wyn Jones, now deposed as captain and adjusting to a new role with Wayne Pivac keen for another look at Will Rowlands and Adam Beard in starting lock partnership.

Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Adams; Biggar, Hardy; Thomas, Elias, Lewis; Rowlands, Beard; Lydiate, Reffell, Faletau.

Replacements: Lake, Carre, Francis, Jones, Navidi; T Williams, Anscombe, Watkin.

Team News - South Africa

15:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It is a South African side with a familiar look, and Pieter-Steph du Toit the only major injury absentee. Franco Mostert will fulfil his lock-cum-flanker duties, while Jacques Nienaber has looked to the future elsewhere in the back row, moving on from Duane Vermeulen. For now, it is the abrasive Jasper Wiese who earns the starting shirt; the exciting Elrigh Louw awaits a debut on a six-two bench.

There is also a forward-looking approach at full-back, where the versatile Damian Willemse gets the nod ahead of Willie Le Roux. Elton Jantjies is preferred at fly-half to Handre Pollard, who was later arriving into camp after winning the Top 14 with Montpellier. Another potential debutant among the replacements is Salmaan Moerat, who further adds to the Springboks enviable second row depth.

South Africa: Willemse; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; E Jantjies, De Klerk; Nche, Mbonambi, Malherbe; Etzebeth, De Jager; Kolisi, Mostert, Wiese.

Replacements: Marx, Kitshoff, Koch, Moerat, Louw, Smith; H Jantjies, Le Roux.

South Africa vs Wales

15:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Over to Pretoria, then, and for the first time in a long while the Loftus Versfeld doors are fully open as a capacity contingent of South African supporters are permitted in to watch their world champions. The scale of the challenge facing this wounded Welsh side was already massive – but with the fans out in force, it may take something special for Waye Pivac’s side to stun the Springboks.

South Africa vs Wales

15:24 , Ben Burrows

It is just over 14 months until Wales kick off their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Bordeaux, and a time for selection experimentation is effectively over.

The South Africa series is crucial in terms of World Cup aspirations, and there is no doubt that some players will thrive and others are likely to fall by the wayside.

Pivac has a number of key performers currently sidelined through injury - players such as Tipuric, Ken Owens, Ross Moriarty and Leigh Halfpenny - who will undoubtedly be added to the mix, but three Tests against the Springboks provide an ideal launch-pad towards events in France next year, even if Wales have to endure short-term pain for long-term gain.

South Africa vs Wales

15:13 , Ben Burrows

Wales have been hit hard by injuries during the past 18 months, losing a number of key personnel for long periods, but no-one has arguably been missed more than George North.

The juggernaut back suffered a knee injury in April last year, ruling him out of the 2021 Lions tour to South Africa and Wales’ entire autumn and Six Nations schedules this season.

Switched with considerable success from wing to outside centre, North offers pace, power and a destructive ball-carrying presence that make him a dynamic force at the highest level.

Only Shane Williams has scored more tries for Wales than North, whose return to the Test arena is keenly anticipated.

South Africa vs Wales

15:05 , Ben Burrows

Welsh entertainer Max Boyce wrote a song in the 1970s called The Outside-Half Factory, which reflected Wales’ production line ability to produce world-class number 10s.

In more recent times, that prolific output has veered towards openside flankers and personified through players like Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric.

Now it is the turn of Leicester’s Tommy Reffell, who makes his Test debut just a fortnight after helping the Tigers win their first Gallagher Premiership title for nine years.

The 23-year-old delivered a number of immense performances during Leicester’s dominant domestic season, and an international baptism of fire now awaits, but do not be surprised if he thrives.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

South Africa vs Wales

14:55 , Ben Burrows

It has been a long time coming, but South Africa will play in front of a sold-out home crowd for the first time since they were crowned world champions 32 months ago.

The coronavirus pandemic meant last year’s Test series against the British and Irish Lions took place behind closed doors, and demand for Saturday’s clash saw remaining tickets snapped up more than 96 hours before kick-off.

The Springboks’ overall record in Pretoria is better than at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, where they won the 1995 World Cup under Francois Pienaar’s captaincy, which underlines Wales’ acute degree of difficulty.

South Africa vs Wales

14:46 , Ben Burrows

Three games against the Springboks in South Africa, with two of those at altitude, provide a fierce examination for Wales.

They suffered a chastening 22-21 Six Nations home defeat against Italy last time out and have never toppled South Africa on home soil, losing all 10 previous encounters.

Three of those defeats were in Pretoria - by scorelines of 37-21, 53-18 and 96-13 - which underlines how big a task awaits them.

Even though it was eight years ago, Wales can take heart from a one-point loss against the Springboks in Nelspruit on their last visit, with six survivors from that encounter featuring in Pivac’s match-day 23, but South Africa are clear favourites.

South Africa vs Wales

14:45 , Ben Burrows

After two thrilling matches this morning, here’s serving number three of top drawer rugby union from southern hemisphere where Wales face their toughest task of Wayne Pivac’s coaching reign with the first of a three-Test series against world champions South Africa.

Pivac’s team play in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town, starting on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld, where they will be greeted by a 50,000 capacity crowd.

We will have all of it for you right here.

England beaten by 14-man Australia in first Test

13:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England collapsed to a fourth successive defeat as their magic touch against Australia finally deserted them in a 30-28 loss in the series opener at Optus Stadium.

The Wallabies had second row Darcy Swain sent off for a headbutt in the 34th minute but Eddie Jones’ tourists were still unable to secure a ninth successive victory in the fixture.

It is the second match in a row that they have been unable to finish off 14-man opposition after being routed by the Barbarians at Twickenham in their most recent outing.

England beaten by 14-man Australia in first Test

Eddie Jones is last in front of the Sky Sports microphone

13:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“We had enough moments in the game to win it. At 14-9 with 20 minutes to go we should have put the game away but we didn’t. Now we’ve got to win the series 2-1 and make sure we don’t let them off the hook next time.

“In some ways a red card can work against you. The referee then starts to referee it differently, and we probably didn’t adjust well enough today.

“The message at halftime was to put more pressure on them and we did that in spurts, but a couple of times we were on their line and didn’t finish it off We’ve got to tidy up our ability to finish in attack. Defensively we could have gone after them a bit more.

“[Henry Arundell] is going to be a good player. If he can keep learning and work hard, he’s going to be a special talent for us. There are somepositives to come out of a loss that we are very disappointed in.”

Dave Rennie on his side’s victory

13:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“I’m really proud. We lost Quade before the game, we lost Allan and Banksy before half-time, and then the red card. We lost collisions on both sides of the ball so I’m really rapt with the characted and the decision-making in the second half.

“I thought our leaders did a fantastic job problem solving on the run. We know England have got a lot more in them so we will be ready for that next week. We gave away too many penalties, so there is plenty to tidy up for us.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A big win for Australia

13:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Australia probably needed a win like that. There were times in that first half where it looked like a day where everything might go wrong, Quade Cooper injured before kick-off, two more starters also forced off early, and then that Darcy Swain sending off. But it speaks volumes about the character that Dave Rennie has instilled in the side that they managed to stay in, and then decisively win the game. Their big players stood up - Michael Hooper, Nic White, Samu Kerevi - and Noah Lolesio grew increasingly into the game after his late call-up to start. The manner in which they attacked an England side on the ropes to extend their advantage showed a real ruthless edge, too - and that Pete Samu score ended up necessary.

Henry Arundell makes an impact

13:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This was rather good on debut from Henry Arundell.

F/T: Australia 30-28 England

13:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s another tough day for England. Eddie Jones’ team are continuing to struggle to put teams away even when dominant for good periods. There was plenty to like about the manner in which their carriers attacked and so often won the gainline, but there was little of true incision that followed it and take the opportunities that should have come.

Those two late scores for Henry Arundell and Jack van Poortvliet rather paper over quite significant cracks. Their attack still looks very disjointed, and they lacked control and direction in the second half.

And some thoughts from Michael Hooper

13:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“With all those things that happened, you can’t plan for that. I’m proud of our coaching staff to come up with a plan and our guys to partially execute that tonight.

“We’ll break down the game, what worked, what didn’t, how we can flip that around in seven days time. We know there will be a different beast coming and we’re expecting to improve as well.””

A disappointed Courtney Lawes speaks to Sky Sports

13:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“Very disappointed obviously. We came with a strategy that we didn’t execute, and Australia were the better team, so fair play to them.

“We spoke about discipline and we didn’t execute on that front. That let us down. Our defence wasn’t good enough today, but we played some good rugby. That’s the good thing, we’ve got a chance to right our wrongs [next week].”

F/T! Australia 30-28 England

13:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Well wasn’t that all rather fun. A 6-6 half-time arm-wrestle gave way to a proper back-and-forth ding-dong battle after the interval, with Australia showing heaps of quality and fight to take control of the game. The 14-man Wallabies were deserving winners after a day when all seemed to be going wrong for Dave Rennie’s side, and claim their first win over England since the 2015 World Cup. Eddie Jones’ winning streak against his old employers is over.

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