Wales achieve autumn ‘Grand Slam’ following South Africa victory

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Wales Rugby
CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 24: Gareth Anscombe (L) and Jonathan Davies (R) of Wales on a lap of honour following their teams victory during the International Friendly match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Tries from Tomas Francis and Liam Williams saw Wales grind home a fifth win over the Springboks in six games. The win ensured Wales secured an unbeaten autumn campaign following on from victories against Scotland, Australia and Tonga in their first three games.

Wales burst out the blocks

The opening twenty minutes or so belonged to the hosts. A first try for Tomas Francis, also the first try for a Welsh prop against Australia, New Zealand or South Africa got Wales off to the perfect start.

Some lovely work off the set piece and an Ellis Jenkins break allowed Francis to blast over from short range. Wales looked sharp and quick around the breakdown and were pressing hard. A failing South African lineout pushing Wales into good positions.

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The set piece was to be the setup for Wales’ next try. Quick ball out wide from Gareth Davies allowing Liam Williams to go over in the corner. Anscombe adding his second conversion.

It wasn’t going to be a one way ride for Wales as Rassie Erasmus’ men fought back with some territory and possession of their own. Handre Pollard closing the gap with a penalty.

The half was to end with South Africa bombarding the Welsh tryline. A great physical battle which Wales held out in. Shaun Edwards will certainly be pleased with how his defence has earned their corn this series.

Half time; Wales 14-3 South Africa

The Springboks came out the better side, continuing their momentum from the first half. The hard carrying from Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx and Pieter-Steph Du Toit telling as Jantjies closed the gap further.

As Wales employed a kicking game South Africa feasted on ball in hand. Jesse Kriel, who had a try disallowed for a foot in touch in the first half grabbing a score to close the gap to within a converted try.

A real battle was emerging. A battle of the nerves and wits. Wales just about holding on as Dan Biggar took over from Gareth Anscombe. Despite several visits into the Wales 22 the visitors never crossed the line again and Wales launched several late charges of their own.

A couple of Dan Biggar penalties helping Wales achieve an autumn ‘Grand Slam’ so to speak. Four wins from four, including a rather unforeseen double whammy on Australia and South Africa.

Wales achieve autumn ‘Grand Slam’

A fourth successive victory over South Africa means Wales will hold on to their title of third best side in the world (Behind New Zealand and Ireland) and makes it nine wins in a row, only two behind their record.

It’s also the first time that Wales have gone an autumn international series unbeaten, achieving the metaphoric Grand Slam. The four wins, including one over Australia after a run of 13 consecutive defeats has made Wales genuine World Cup contenders as they head into the new year in good stead.

A campaign full of positives in terms of performances and building strength in depth will certainly please head coach Warren Gatland who said results didn’t really matter before it all kicked off against Scotland a month ago.

The win certainly sets Wales on a solid path heading into the 2019 Six Nations before the final building block in Japan.

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