Hadleigh Parkes stars as Wales defeat South Africa 24-22 in their final Autumn International Test. The debuting center scored two tries that helped Wales across the line.
Parkes Stars in Early Wales Attack
Wales opened the game up early on scoring two tries in under 10 minutes through centres Scott Williams and Hadleigh Parkes. South Africa struggled to keep up with the pace set by the hosts as they exploited the South Africans quick line speed with some lovely kicking from Dan Biggar.
Despite the visitors best efforts and a Pollard penalty to close the gap it was Wales who would get the next score, Parkes with his second try of the match to put Wales 21-3 up. South Africa started their comeback late on in the first half with Gelant crossing the whitewash for his 1st try in South African colours.
Half Time Wales 21-10 South Africa
Despite losing Eben Eztebeth late on in the first half South Africa went up the gears in the early stages of the second half. Pollard sneaked over from close range continuing the comeback.
Wales started to ring the changes and lost yet more momentum with South Africa’s forwards easily on top around the park and at the set piece. Excellent build up play and narrow defending by Wales then gave Jesse Kriel an open door to cross over out wide.
The conversion gave South Africa the lead for the first time in the match. Massive shifts in the final 10 minutes from prop Wyn Jones and captain Alun Wyn Jones gave Wales a platform to build off and they progressed up field through some solid carrying by the tight five.
Halfpenny kicking the penalty won at the resulting breakdown, ultimately being the deciding kick.
Full Time Wales 24-22 South Africa
Parkes stars on his debut, and his two tries saw him become the man of the match on his debut. In front of a large attendance of 65,317 at the Principality Stadium, Wales took advantage of the Springbok sides recent troubles.
Wales & South Africa see out an exhilarating year of international rugby. 👏🏉
— Dove Men+Care (@DoveMen) December 2, 2017
Five Things We Learnt From Wales’ Narrow Victory
Wales can successfully use a kicking game as more teams look towards high pressing and quick line speed. Biggar really hurt the Springboks early on with his kicking game as he kicked into space left behind the rushing defensive line. Patchell tried to replicate this after he came on, but had less success due to a massively compromised forward platform.
Wales’ rolling maul defence needs to be resolved.
Australia used it to perfection in test match one and South Africa did the same today. Wales need to find a way to either deal with the ball as soon as it’s brought down at the base of the maul or get amongst the opposition pack and disrupt the ball carriers.
Warren Gatland’s must play an openside in the seven jersey.
The lack of a ‘true’ openside this Autumn has allowed the opposition to play quick ball when they wanted to. Injuries in this position to Sam Warburton, Ellis Jenkins and James Davies at the time of selection hindered Warren Gatland’s options. Not having that player to slow ball down the breakdown is hurting Wales with all the tier one nations getting on top and utilising it to their advantage. With any of the above opensides back in the squad or indeed Thomas Young Wales will be a much more solid team around the park.
Wales can play an expansive style, but it needs the handling errors to be cut down.
Wales have been attempting to play a more attacking style of rugby this test series, but it’s been hindered, more than often, by themselves. Double figure handling errors in the opener against Australia really hurt them and cutting them right down to single figures by the South Africa test really benefited their attack.
Wales will compete once they have a full squad available.
Warren Gatland had over 10 players entering the campaign carrying niggles, and it was an issue that only got worse throughout the four Tests. Key players ruled out long term, and most English based stars ruled out by their clubs for the final Test meant that Warren Gatland had to pick the bare bones of a squad to face an in transition South Africa side. Once Wales get most of their key figures back fit they’ll become a force once more if they continue to play an attacking game.
Wales Head Into 2018 Six Nations On A High
Wales face Scotland at home in the opening weekend of the Six Nations in what could be the decider for which team challenges for the Championship.
Scotland are in hot form coming off the back of a solid performance against New Zealand and wins against Samoa and Australia.
Wales, who played an extra Test match enter the annual tournament on a high following today’s victory, but will be well aware that performances will have to get better if they’re to have a good Six Nations.
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