RWC : Springboks leave it late to win epic and brutal contest at Twickenham
Fourie du Preez breaks Welsh hearts
South Africa are through to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
They scraped through after a late try from the excellent Fourie du Preez in what was the expected hugely physical and often brutal battle, mainly thanks to an outstanding performance in attack and defence from flanker Schalk Burger, the boot of Handre Pollard and a mammoth collective show of power in a compelling second half.
It was never pretty but in the end the South Africans probably just merited it. They were much the better side in the second half when Wales simply could not find positions from which to attack.
Wales defensive effort was simply one of the most courageous and committed you could wish to see in Test rugby.
It had been so tense and close throughout and though it had been 6-0 to South Africa after just 12 minutes but it could so easily have been Wales who had scored first. Young Tyler Morgan had stripped Damian de Allende of the ball and George North had gone so close on the left. When the ball was transferred right Gethin Jenkins saw Morgan in space but his lofted pass was too high and it sailed harmlessly into touch.
Wales led 13-12 and deservedly so at half time. Their line speed in defence was forcing Pollard either inside or to opt for the kick, and South Africa’s only real try-scoring chance had come when scrum-half Fourie du Preez put in a lovely kick that so nearly bounced kindly for winger J P Pietersen.
Pollard missed yet another penalty in the beginning of the second half . But when Burger conceded a silly penalty moments later near halfway, Biggar made absolutely no mistake. Wales led 16-12.
South Africa stormed back, going through phase after phase. Wales thought they had raised the siege when Warburton made a remarkable steal and kicked downfield. But South Africa came again, and although they could not penetrate the defence, they did create a position for Pollard to drop a goal. They were back to 15-16.
South Africa had another penalty from an Alun Wyn Jones indiscretion, and Pollard, albeit from a tricky angle and a considerable distance, missed the kick again. Prop Frans Malherbe was put through for Le Roux to take it on, but Lood de Jager lost the ball in contact as South Africa really looked like threatening.
Another penalty resulted, and this time Pollard kicked it. South Africa led 18-16, with just over an hour gone.
What happened from the re-start? Eben Etzebeth was pinged for being off his feet at the ruck and Biggar stepped up to kick it. 19-18 it was.
And from the very next scrummage South African No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who had become more and more of an influence as the match wore on, broke blind and fed scrum-half Du Preez with no defender in front of him. Du Preez duly scored, and though Pollard missed the conversion, it was 23-19 with only just over four minutes remaining.
Source : Telegraph