Wales 24-22 South Africa: Wales fend off Boks fightback
Last Updated: 02/12/17 5:21pm
Wales piled more misery onto South Africa with a narrow 24-22 win over the Springboks at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
The Boks were stunned in the first 10 minutes as the conceded two easy tries as Wales took advantage of some poor defence from the visitors.
Hadleigh Parkes scored twice on his debut with Scott Williams also going over for Wales, while Leigh Halfpenny nailed all his conversions and added a penalty - which gave them the win.
South Africa fought back with tries from Warrick Gelant, Handre Pollard and Jesse Kriel with Pollard adding two conversions and a penalty but their poor start and lack of discipline ultimately let them down.
Parkes, who only completed a three-year Wales residency qualification period hours before kick-off, was the shining light as he became the first Wales player since winger George North seven years ago - also against South Africa - to score twice on debut.
Wales settled impressively and they took a fifth-minute lead when fly-half Dan Biggar's superbly-placed kick was caught at full speed by winger Hallam Amos, who cut inside before delivering a scoring pass to Williams.
Halfpenny converted, but the home side were not finished, and Biggar struck again with another teasing kick over the top of South Africa's defence that this time Parkes collected for a debut Test try after just eight minutes, before Halfpenny's conversion made it 14-0.
Wales were a step ahead in thought and deed, and scrum-half Aled Davies led a break-out that had South Africa defenders retreating, yet the Springboks were starting to exert scrummaging authority, targeting home prop Scott Andrews and gaining penalties as a result.
Pollard opened South Africa's account with a penalty nine minutes before half-time, before South Africa proved architects of their own downfall when full-back Andries Coetzee saw an attempted clearance kick charged down by Biggar before No 8 Taulupe Faletau gathered and sent Parkes over unopposed for another touchdown.
Halfpenny's conversion took Wales 18 points clear, only for South Africa to keep their slender hopes alive when wing Dillyn Leyds ran from inside his own 22, and a flowing move ended with Kriel kicking into space and Gelant marking his first Test start by winning a race to score.
Pollard added the extras to cut Wales' advantage, yet South Africa still had it all to do, trailing 21-10 at the break.
And the Springboks suffered an immediate setback when injured skipper Eben Etzebeth failed to appear for the second period, increasing an already acute degree of difficulty against opponents eager and willing to run possession.
South Africa, though, suddenly looked up to the task, and a 46th-minute Pollard try gave Wales cause for concern as a healthy advantage continued to be chipped away at, while a double change saw head coach Warren Gatland sent on prop Wyn Jones for Rob Evans and replace Biggar with Rhys Patchell.
But the Springboks were on a roll, and they went ahead for the first time nine minutes later as Kriel rounded off a crisp move by powering over Halfpenny to claim a try that Pollard converted.
Halfpenny then kicked a penalty 12 minutes from time to put Wales back in front, but it was far from the convincing home win that looked likely at one stage.