South Africa 12-13 Wales: Gareth Anscombe's late conversion clinches victory for tourists
Wales left it late to secure a first victory on South African soil and ensure that the three-Test series heads to a decider on Saturday; Gareth Anscombe came off the bench and showed exceptional accuracy off the kicking tee
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 10/07/22 7:35am
Gareth Anscombe’s late conversion sealed victory for Wales over South Africa to win the second Test 13-12 and send the series to a decider.
Anscombe entered the field midway through the second half after Wales' captain Dan Biggar sustained a shoulder injury. He then kept his cool to direct the late conversion from the far left touchline between the posts.
Josh Adams had charged over at pace with a try to stun South Africa, who were leading 12-6 with four minutes left to play.
It is Wales' first victory on South African soil and means they will head to Cape Town with everything on the line in next Saturday's third Test.
South Africa 12-13 Wales - Score summary
|South Africa - Pens: Pollard (5, 43, 51, 59)|
|Wales - Tries: Adams (77). Cons: Anscombe (78). Pens: Biggar (2), Anscombe (66).|
The home side approached the Test having named six uncapped players and a new captain. In contrast, Wayne Pivac named a settled side and changed just one individual within his backline, as Alex Cuthbert took the place of Adams.
Cuthbert's day did not last long though due to injury and he was replaced by Adams before the first quarter was out.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber made wholesale changes to his squad with only Eben Etzebeth retaining his starting spot. Nienaber selected a new captain, plus two uncapped players in their starting line-up and a further four among the replacements.
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac made one change with Alex Cuthbert arriving on the left wing. Cuthbert started in place of Josh Adams, who moved to the bench. Owen Watkin dropped out of the squad, while Alun Wyn Jones was named on the bench again.
Off the kick-off, Wales scored the earliest of points in the contest after Pieter-Steph du Toi was pinged for going straight off his feet.
Biggar was on the money from the tee, before his counterpart Handre Pollard showed his accuracy four minutes later. The two penalties would turn out to be the only points of the first 40 minutes.
Biggar and Pollard each missed long-range opportunities before the first quarter was over and after that, the two teams largely cancelled each other out.
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South Africa's head coach chose to make further personnel changes at the interval, with Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch entering the field.
Wales introduced Tomos Williams and found themselves on the wrong end of the referees' whistle for a large part of the second half.
Pollard took advantage off the tee to put South Africa 6-3 and then 9-3 up, with Biggar missing an easy shot in between.
Wales' captain was then forced to leave the field due to a shoulder injury after 52 minutes before the visitors went down to 14 men after a controversial call on Alyn Wyn Jones, who had arrived to try and steady the ship.
A further Pollard penalty left Wales with a nine-point mountain to climb going into the final quarter.
Anscombe wasn't concerned though, he cut the deficit just as Jones returned to the field but pushed a second attempt just wide of the uprights with 10 minutes to play.
With time running out, Wales gladly punished Springbok ill-discipline at scrum time.
Anscombe's probing kick gave them field position and once they swung it to the far-right of the park, Adams used his pace to surge over.
The fly-half then remained cool to sweetly strike the conversion and after weathering one final passage of play from South Africa, Wales forced a knock-on to keep the series alive and secure a historic victory.
Pivac: We're in the race
Wayne Pivac couldn't hide the smile on his face after the conclusion of the contest.
"There was a lot of passion in the changing room before the game and at half-time. The boys were still keen to get the job done, they were very frustrated after last week," the head coach said.
"I'm just pleased that we got there, the South African team came out as they knew we would and played very well.
"We're a little bit disappointed that we're not two-nil up. We are in the race to win the series next week. It is going to be a huge challenge and it will be a different South African side, we know.
"It just makes for a good series. It is going to be a big week for us, and we will look forward to it."
Biggar: We are a tight-knit group and everyone deserves a pat on the back
Dan Biggar hailed Wales' "huge achievement" after his team of history-makers stunned world champions South Africa.
He said: "We have earnt the right to enjoy this victory because it is a huge achievement.
"There have been some very, very good Wales teams to have come here and been sent packing. We are a really tight-knit group, and everyone deserves a pat on the back.
"I mentioned before the game in my speech (to the players) that it was an easy job to be captain of this team because we have got a great group of guys who will roll their sleeves up and work their socks off."
On Anscombe's match-winning strike, Biggar added: "It was absolute character from him. I thought he was excellent when he went on, and from the minute it left his boot it looked good, so huge bottle from him and a huge effort.
"I am really pleased for him because he has had a difficult couple of years with injury. I am really proud of him, and Sam Wainwright on debut against a front row full of World Cup winners, it was exceptional from him."
South Africa and Wales are next in action for the deciding match of this three-Test series in a week's time in Cape Town on Saturday, July 16, live on Sky Sports Action from 3.30pm (4.05pm kick-off).