South Africa thrash Wales

Butch James contributed 23 points from nine kicks out of nine, including the conversion of four good tries as South Africa beat a disappointing Wales 43-17 in the first of two Tests before a paltry Vodacom Park crowd of 23 000 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

There was much to commend the new-look Springbok team in their first Test under new coach Peter de Villiers.

Good line out work, an urgency to the loose ball and some good interplay were the outstanding features against a side that looked disjointed and uncertain.

The structure of the Boks also impressed, considering that they had had only a week to find one another.

Negatives for South Africa were the shaky scrums where Brian Mujati was unconvincing and a few ruck turnovers early on. The game came alive in the latter part of the second half when the Boks ran everything at a Welsh side who were disappointing in their ruck discipline and seemed to miss players back home who were either injured or left out.

The first score came after six minutes when Butch James slotted an angled penalty from 40 metres out after Wales were penalised for not rolling away.

Four minutes later, he increased the score to 6-0 from in front of the posts following offsides from a ruck after one of the many high kicks the two sides bombarded on one another.

South Africa had the best of proceedings up that stage, but Wales’ scrum put the Springboks under pressure on their own ball and three turnovers at ruck time also did not help the home side’s cause.

James and Stephen Jones then swapped penalties for the Boks to lead 9-3 before another ruck transgression under their posts by Wales gave James another easy shot.

After 31 minutes Luke Watson, who like Juan Smith was having a good game, broke through from a ruck.

The ball went wide for John Smit and Adi Jacobs to send Conrad Jantjes over after some deft handling. James converted from right in front (19-3) Five minutes later Wales, who looked dangerous on the few occasions that they ran the ball, went to the right and back to the left.

Centre Sonny Parker broke three Bok tackles for fullback Jamie Roberts to finish on the corner flag. Stephen Jones converted from touch and at 19-10 Wales were back in the game — only to give away another ruck penalty before their posts for James to take it to 22-10 at the break.

A dropped ball from a high kick by Tonderai Chavhanga, a strong run by Pierre Spies and a break by Jacobs, interspersed with frequent high kicks by both sides marked the first seven minutes of the second half.

Then Jean de Villiers sliced through the Wales defence to be brought down on the line. He wasn’t held, and went over for James to make it 29-10 with his seventh kick from seven.

A huge cheer greeted the arrival of Victor Matfield and home boy CJ van der Linde when they replaced new caps Andries Bekker and Mujati respectively.

A further 10 minutes on Bakkies Botha made way for Bulls team mate Danie Rossouw, Bismarck du Plessis replaced skipper John Smit and Ruan Pienaar came on for Bolla Conradie.

That was immediately after Conradie had sent Pierre Spies over for South Africa’s third try afer more good work by Watson

James added the customary conversion and at 36-10 the visitors were out of it. Then Wales, from deep in their own half, used a scrum ball to put Shane Williams away, and his inside swerve left Bryan Habana and Percy Montgomery for dead.

The Boks were now running everything and a quick lineout, a good run by Pienaar and good recycling gave Montgomery a chance for a weaving run and a score in the corner. James again split the posts


South Africa:
Tries: Conrad Jantjes, Jean de Villiers, Pierre Spies, Percy Montgomery
Conversions: Butch James (4)
Penalties: James (5)

Tries: Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams.

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