2023 Wales vs South Africa - Men's

South Africa Puts Wales To The Sword In Cardiff With Record Victory

South Africa Puts Wales To The Sword In Cardiff With Record Victory

Rugby World Cup winner South Africa defeated Wales 52-16 in the Rugby World Cup 2023 warm-up match in Cardiff. Here is a recap of the action.

Aug 19, 2023 by Philip Bendon
South Africa Puts Wales To The Sword In Cardiff With Record Victory

Reigning world champion South Africa put on a clinic in Cardiff to thump Wales 52-16 with a mightily impressive showing. 

In total, the Springboks scored eight tries, with Jesse Kriel and Canan Moodie crossing twice each. 

Displaying their full arsenal of skills, South Africa scored tries in every which way, sending a warning shot to the rest of the rugby world.

Up front, the Welsh had no answers for the Springboks' physicality, with captain Siya Kolisi leading the charge upon his return from injury. 

While Kolisi played for just 40 minutes, he showed enough to confirm he is not far off full-match fitness, as he put in several thunderous runs and dominant tackles. 

Throughout the fixture, the Springbok pack thoroughly dominated at set-piece time, steamrolling their hosts at scrum time, while their renowned maul led to two tries. 

Elsewhere, fly-half Manie Libbok and fullback Willie Le Roux put on a masterclass, as dual playmaking access testing the Welsh defense with sniping runs and long passes. 

For as positive as Libbok and Le Roux were, wingers Canan Moodie and Cheslin Kolbe stole the show, shredding the Welsh defense seemingly at will. 

With both Kurt-Lee Arendse and Makazole Mapimpi waiting in the wings, excuse the pun, head coach Jacques Nienaber and his coaching staff have a real selection headache on who starts come the World Cup. 

One area of concern for the Springboks, however, is the lack of consistency from the kicking tee of Libbok, who once again was mixed at best. While it was not an issue in the win, given their dominance, South Africa will be all too aware that tougher challenges lay ahead, and any missed points could prove to be crucial. 

Clearly encouraged by his side’s performance, Nienaber spoke post-match, saying, "We thought they would be very courageous, and they were, so we had to be very good in what we do, if we wanted to get a result today. We're building. We've got another warm-up game against New Zealand on Friday, so nice short turnaround, but our most important game is Scotland [at the World Cup]. 

"I think there were some good reads today and good intentions.

"We scored eight tries. I thought there were another four opportunities just before halftime. I thought we left those on the field. 

"Going into a World Cup and the pool we are in, we have to make sure we nail those." 

On potentially winning the World Cup again, Nienaber said: "That's obviously our aim. It would be amazing to go back to back. Only one team has done that before. If we can do that, we will be the first nation to win four World Cups. 

"It's a good driver for us, and to make history like that. We will enjoy tonight and stay firmly on the ground because there's a lot of work to do still." 

As the Springboks enjoy a job well done, Wales head coach Warren Gatland and his charges will be left with some soul-searching to do. 

Simply put, the Welsh were not at the races from the off and rarely challenged the Springbok defence. 

It was unclear as to the Welsh approach to this game. Perhaps linked to their inability to get consistent possession and front football, Wales appeared averse to straightening the line. 

Instead, they looked to shift the ball wide and found themselves crabbing laterally, setting up easy targets for the South African defenders.

Speaking post-match, Gatland did not mince his words on the performance. 

"We gifted soft tries as well," he said. "I thought the yellow card on Rio Dyer was pretty harsh. The angles we saw, it looked like it hit a green hand first, and then it's a penalty try and yellow card. 

"Then we conceded straight after that from the kickoff. It really changed the complexion going into halftime, as we then needed to chase it. 

"We could have played a couple of players today who were carrying a few niggles, but we wanted to be training fully all week to try and build some confidence around that. 

"There were some players with inexperience out there, and hopefully, there'll be some learning. 

"I thought South Africa was very good. They didn't make many mistakes. They carried the ball well. Their defense put us under pressure. 

"For a lot of those players playing against them, world champions, fully loaded, it's an experience for Wales. 

"It's about looking back at some of the soft points we conceded, and before halftime, as well, where we can fix those problems. They're definitely fixable. 

"We need to be a little bit better in terms of the contact area and cleaning out and defensively coming off the line a bit more and winning some of those collisions." 

Next up for South Africa is a match with rival New Zealand at Twickenham for what will be a sold-out exhibition match. 

Wales, on the other hand, has concluded its warm-ups, meaning its next fixture will be a crunch World Cup clash with Fiji on Sept. 10.