It was brutal and very tough, but ultimately the Springboks outscored Wales by three tries to nil to kick off their Castle Lager Outgoing Tour with an emphatic 24-15 victory at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis and Fourie du Preez scored for South Africa, with Morné Steyn adding two conversions and a penalty goal and Patrick Lambie slotting a conversion.
The Six Nations champions’ only points came via the boot of Leigh Halfpenny, who slotted five penalty goals. It was the first time in five years the Springboks didn’t concede a single try against Wales and it was also the South Africans’ biggest win in Cardiff since 2007.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said afterwards he was relieved with the win in the first match of a challenging tour to the Northern Hemisphere.
“This was a really tough encounter and we knew it would be physical out there,” said Meyer after the Test.
“I’m very happy that we stayed focused. The experienced players came through at the end and I’m proud that we’ve won.
“We made a huge step up in our defence and we used most of the chances we got our there. The experienced players did very well – Wales played great rugby at stages during the second half you but never got the sense there was panic in the side.
“I was also pleased that we gave opportunities to a couple of youngsters and they all made a difference. Jean (de Villiers) also did very well as our captain.
“This team is growing, but we will keep our feet on the ground, remain humble and now start focusing on our next game (on Sunday in Edinburgh against Scotland).”
De Villiers said: “We really started well and we knew it would be important. We managed to build a nice lead and although Wales fought back to trail by only two points at one stage, we still felt in control. I think in the end our experience showed in the way in which we closed out the game.”
Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn left the field in the first quarter with back trouble. He will be reassessed in Edinburgh. Pat Lambie moved to flyhalf and Willie le Roux came on at fullback.
“Morné had a back spasm before the match and it never came right, so we decided to take him off as we didn’t want to risk any further injury,” explained Meyer. “I thought Pat and Willie did very well, especially in terms of their tactical kicking.”