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Wales 16-52 South Africa: Springboks storm past outmatched hosts in Rugby World Cup warm-up clash

Rugby World Cup holders South Africa stormed to a huge win over Wales at the Principality Stadium, with Jesse Kriel and Canan Moodie leading the way with two tries apiece; Wales' scores came from the boot of Sam Costelow, while Rio Dyer was sin-binned in the first half

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 19: Jesse Kriel of South Africa scores the fifth try during the Summer International match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Image: Jesse Kriel dives over for his second try in South Africa's convincing win over Wales

Jesse Kriel's first Test tries for five years and two from Canan Moodie helped South Africa inflict a heavy 52-16 defeat on Wales in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Cardiff.

Tries from Malcolm Marx, winger Moodie and outside centre Kriel, plus a penalty try which resulted in Rio Dyer being sent to the sin-bin helped the Springboks into a 24-9 lead at half-time, with Wales' reply coming in the form of three penalties kicked by Sam Costelow.

The current World Cup holders did not ease off after the break, with Kriel and player of the match Moodie adding their second tries from breakaways following interceptions and Pieter-Steph du Toit muscling his way over as well.

A converted try from Damian Willemse, who was sin-binned inside the final 10 minutes for a high tackle, took South Africa past the half-century mark and although Sam Parry managed a consolation for Wales, head coach Warren Gatland was left with plenty to ponder ahead of naming his World Cup squad next week.

Story of the game

South Africa welcomed back inspirational captain Siya Kolisi after a long spell out with a knee injury and he made an immediate impact for the visitors, offloading for hooker Marx to finish wide on the left in the fourth minute after the Springboks' imposing pack had rumbled forward from an early penalty.

Mannie Libbok was unable to convert from out wide though and later missed a kickable penalty from around 40 metres out. Opposite number Costelow though, back in the starting line-up at fly-half with Dan Biggar injured, landed two penalties to put Wales into a one-point lead midway through the half.

However, the Springboks struck back in devastating fashion. RG Snyman got the attack going when he burst from the base of a ruck around halfway, with the forwards and backs combining to move upfield followed by Willie le Roux picking a sumptuous cut-out pass for Moodie to finish on the right for a try converted by Libbok.

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Wales 16-52 South Africa score summary

Wales: Try - Sam Parry; Conversion - Cai Evans; Penalties – Sam Costelow (3).

South Africa: Try – Canan Moodie(2), Jesse Kriel (2), Malcolm Marx, Penalty try, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Damian Willemse; Conversions – Libbok (5).

Costelow responded soon after the restart with a second penalty, but a wild spell with six minutes to go until half time saw South Africa's lead blow out from three points to 15.

First, the hosts were left temporarily down to 14 after winger Dyer was sent to the sin-bin for deliberately knocking the ball dead in-goal as Moodie chased Le Roux's chip kick with referee Andrew Brace awarding a penalty try too after a lengthy consultation with the TMO.

Then, straight from the restart, South Africa had their second. Mason Grady threw a reckless offload after collecting Damian de Allende's kick and being tackled over his own try-line, and Kriel was there to recover the ball and dot down for his first international try since scoring against Wales in November 2018.

The introduction of the Springboks' 'bomb squad' from the bench within 10 minutes of the restart helped the visitors reinforce the scrum dominance they had gained in the first half, and even when Wales did manage to put an attack together it resulted in the visitors going up the other end to score.

Wales v South Africa - Summer Nations Series - Principality Stadium
South Africa's Canan Moodie celebrates scoring his sides sixth try during the Summer Nations Series match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Saturday August 19, 2023.
Image: Canan Moodie celebrates one of two tries as South Africa inflicted a heavy defeat on Wales

The home side were knocking on the door, but a superb interception from back row Du Toit as he shot out of the defensive line set in motion a counterattack which led to Kriel sprinting clear to score under the posts in the 52nd minute.

The Springboks were in for their seventh try of the match seven minutes later as replacement Duane Vermuelen took the ball from a line-out and then set the impressive Du Toit up to force his way over close to the posts.

Another replacement in Willemse then found his way over inside the final 10 minutes as Wales' defence was opened up, with matters being made worse when debutant Teddy Williams was yellow-carded for an infringement in backplay.

Both teams finished with 14 players on the pitch though after Willemse was sat down for 10 minutes for a high tackle on Dyer, who had to leave the field for a head injury assessment, and although Parry managed a late try for Wales they were well beaten.

Gatland: Loss has answered some World Cup selection questions

Wales head coach Warren Gatland believes his record defeat to South Africa in Cardiff had made his World Cup selection task easier.

South Africa's victory - the first time Wales have conceded 50 points under Gatland - comfortably eclipsed their previous biggest win in Cardiff, a 34-12 triumph in 2007.

Asked if the game had answered a lot of questions on his World Cup selection before next month's tournament in France, the New Zealander, who names his 33-player squad for this year's global gathering on Monday, said: "I think so.

"We'll go back to the hotel, sit down as coaches and hopefully finalise it. If we need to have more discussion hopefully we can do that on Sunday.

Wales v England - Summer Nations Series - Principality Stadium
Wales� head coach Warren Gatland before the Summer Nations Series match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Saturday August 5, 2023.
Image: Warren Gatland believes some of his World Cup squad selection questions have been answered by Wales' defeat to South Africa

"Possibly some of those questions that we've got would have made it a little bit easier for our discussions.

"The only positive I can take is hopefully there's a lot of learning that some of those players will have got from it."

The Springboks start the defence of the trophy they won in Japan four years ago against Scotland in Marseille on September 10, and face Ireland and Tonga in Pool B as well.

"We have to get better in France," said South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber after his side's eight-try show in Cardiff.

"We are on the side of the draw that is knock-out from game one. Just to get out of pool we have to be on form."

What's next?

Wales have completed their World Cup warm-up fixture programme, with their next match being their Pool C opener against Fiji in Bordeaux on Sunday, September 10. South Africa now face old rivals New Zealand at Twickenham in their next warm-up game on Friday, August 25.

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