Wales execute pinpoint cross kick play for opening try in thrilling win over Springboks



Associated Press

Wales topped South Africa 24-22 after blowing a 21-3 lead and likely ended the two-year reign of Springboks rugby coach Allister Coetzee this morning.

Wales scored all three of its tries in the first 33 minutes, including a pair on debut by center Hadleigh Parkes on the day he became eligible.

The Springboks, outfoxed by kicks and a chargedown in that first spell, gradually protected the ball better and replied with three tries, too, to hit the front for the first time at 22-21 with 15 minutes to go.

Then Leigh Halfpenny kicked Wales in front with 12 to go, and errors by both teams prevented them from finishing the other off.

After the Springboks turned over the ball in the Welsh half and the final whistle blew, Coetzee jerked back in his chair in anger and stormed off the coaches' bench. But even if his Springboks had won a third straight test on their European tour, he's still not expected to survive a review this month.

Despite improving on a pitiful four wins last year with seven this year, the Boks didn't beat anyone of note, and Wales put out a near B team that was down to its fourth tighthead prop.

Coetzee has only 11 wins in 25 tests, and South Africa's new director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, is tipped to change coach two years out from the Rugby World Cup.

Wales, missing almost an entire first-choice side including eight British Lions, took a page out of Ireland's playbook and used kicks like grenades to blow up the defense.

A crosskick by flyhalf Dan Biggar was caught on the run by right wing Amos in the clear. When he was finally ran him, center Scott Williams was in support to score.

That try set up the second three minutes later. From lineout ball, Biggar set up to kick and Springboks fullback Andries Coetzee moved to cover the touchline. Instead, Biggar chipped down the middle over the defense. South Africa failed to commit to the ball and Parkes scooped it up and scored for 14-0 after eight minutes.

South Africa slowly grew into the match. Hooker Malcolm Marx carried four defenders to the line but there were too many bodies for a try to be given, so the visitors took a Handre Pollard penalty.

Then they conceded another soft try. Coetzee was charged down by Biggar. No. 8 Taulupe Faletau, who collected the ball and put Parkes in, was in front of Biggar at the time but nobody complained.

Parkes became the first Wales player to score two tries on debut since George North in the same fixture in 2010. On that day, Wales lost after leading 20-9 with 34 minutes to go.

This time, Wales led 21-3 with 43 to go. And blew it again.

Just before halftime, Boks wing Dillyn Leyds counterattacked from his 22, and found Kriel on halfway. Kriel chipped ahead and wing Warrick Gelant sped first to the ball in goal.

South Africa deserved to be 11 down at the break, but was back in the hunt without captain Eben Etzebeth, who walked off cradling his left arm.

After halftime, the Springboks confirmed the momentum change when, after pounding the Welsh, Pollard scored. But his conversion hit the post.

Their scrum earned a third penalty, and eventually Wales' defense was caught too narrow. Kriel, on an overlap, ran over Halfpenny from five meters out. Pollard converted from the sideline and South Arica led for the first time, 22-21 in the 65th.

A Halfpenny penalty in the 68th put Wales back ahead, then Coetzee made a tactical mistake: He replaced Pollard with Elton Jantjies.

Jantjies, coming in cold, twice knocked on, the first time after 15 phases. It was the end of the Boks, and probably Coetzee.

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