Wales defeated South Africa 22-20 in front of a rain-soaked crowd of 21,357 at RFK Stadium in Washington DC in a one-off test kicking off the summer tours.
This was the fourth time in five matches that Wales has beaten the Springboks. The game was shown live on FloRugby and is available on-demand.
Thunderstorms were threatening all at in the DC area, but for the most part held off. The rain didn't, however, and helped make for a physical, defensive-minded game. Both teams had some youngsters on the pitch, and those young players were hoping to make an impression on their coaches. As a result, both put on plenty of defensive pressure, and it wasn't until about midway through the first half that anyone scored.
Wales was found guilty of diving in at the ruck, and Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies put the kick over from about 28 meters.
Wales answered at 30 minutes with some brilliant rugby. A towering high ball from flyhalf Gareth Ascombe put the 'Boks under pressure. Center Owen Watkin put in a good chase, and while the South Africans secured possession, there was some confusion at the base of the resulting ruck. The ball appeared out, and Welsh flanker and captain Ellis Jenkins alertly pounced on the ball and fed Ashleigh Parkes - just on the field as a sub for the injured Steff Evans. Parkes linked with No. 8 George Moriarty who juggled the ball before feeding Jenkins in support.
Jenkins found fullback Hallan Amons and he dummied before sliding over. Anscombe hit the touchline conversion, and suddenly Wales was in the lead 7-3.
Wales pressed their advantage. Anscombe beat several tacklers on a counter and flanker Seb Davies put in a big carry. Then scrumhalf Tomos Williams, on his debut, slid through a gap, was knocked down but not held, and got up long enough to dive over. Three minutes after the first try, Wales had its second and a 14-3 lead.
That's how the first half ended, with South Africa getting plenty of possession, but not really able to use it. But South Africa got seven points back after some good defensive pressure set up an interception from wing Travis Ismaiel, who was in next to the posts. It was Ismaiel's debut game for South Africa, and it was his birthday, too. Jantjies converted, and South Africa was back in the contest at 14-10.
Wales came back and got a penalty close to the South Africa line, and opted for the fairly easy three points to make it 17-10. South Africa had an excellent chance to score after that, and with a penalty advantage inside the Welsh 22, Jantjies lofted the ball high for a chase. Watkin was there and illegally knocked the ball dead. So there was a question right there if there might be a penalty try.
After help from the TMO, referee Matthew Carley adjudged Watkin to have committed a yellow card offense, but couldn't be sure that a try would have been scored because another Welsh defender was close.
So a yellow card for Watkin, but no penalty try. South Africa took the penalty, and opted for a scrum. Three times Wales was penalized for popping the scrum, but finally South Africa went wide and put wing Makazole Mapimpi over for a try in the corner, Jantjies converted and we had a tie ballgame.
The South African scrum put Wales under the cosh once more, and a penalty at the Wales 22 allowed sub Rob Du Preez to put it over for a 20-17 Springbok lead at 73 minutes.
That lead didn't last long, as De Preez had a clearance kick partially charged down by Williams, and while South Africa recovered the ball, the 'Boks were back up against their line. Du Preez might have been slow in getting that previous kick away, but he was certainly slow the second time. Williams raced in to block it, and sub forward Ryan Elias was right behind to fall on the ball for the 22-20 lead.
It was a difficult lesson for Du Preez on how much quicker and intense test rugby is, and it gave Wales the lead.
That'show it ended. South Africa had chance to come back, but knocked a wide pass on to end the game.
In the end, it was a very entertaining and intense game, and worth it for the fans who braved the rain to watch it.
Tries: Amons, Williams, Elias
Convs: Ascombe 2
South Africa 20
Tries: Ismaiel, Mapimpi
Convs: Jantjies 2
Pens: Jantjies, Du Preez
Wales Starting Lineup: 15. Hallam Amos; 14. Tom Prydie, 13. George North, 12. Owen Watkin, 11. Steff Evans; 10. Gareth Anscombe, 9. Tomos Williams; 1. Nicky Smith, 2. Elliot Dee, 3. Dillon Lewis; 4. Cory Hill, 5. Bradley Davies; 6. Seb Davies, 7. Ellis Jenkins (capt), 8. Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: 16. Ryan Elias, 17. Wyn Jones, 18. Rhodri Jones, 19. Adam Beard, 20. Aaron Wainwright, 21. Aled Davies, 22. Rhys Patchell/Gareth Davies, 23. Hadleigh Parkes.
South Africa Starting Lineup: 15. Curwin Bosch; 14. Travis Ismaiel; 13. Jesse Kriel; 12. Andre Esterhuizen; 11. Makazole Mapimpi; 10. Elton Jantjies; 9. Ivan van Zyl; 8. Dan du Preez; 7. Oupa Mohoje; 6. Kwagga Smith; 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit; 4. Jason Jenkins; 3. Wilco Louw; 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle; 1. Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16. Akker van der Merwe; 17. Steven Kitshoff; 18. Thomas du Toit; 19. Marvin Orie; 20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe; 21. Embrose Papier; 22. Robert du Preez; 23. Warrick Gelant.