SA Schools hold off Wales's comeback
INTERNATIONAL AGE-GROUP SERIES: The South African Schools beat Wales Under-18 team 23-17 at City Park in Cape Town on Friday.
The rain went away but the wind carried on blowing. SA Schools led 13-0 at the break. They were leading 23-3 when, in the last eight minutes of the match, Wales scored 14 points, which seemed a more realistic position as they deserved more than three points.
South Africa kicked off to start the match, playing with the strong, cold wind. They attacked from the start but a turnover to Wales and then a penalty against SA Schools got Wales out of trouble. Both sides were willing to run with the ball but both defences were organised and determined.
For most of the match South African backs looked faster and more evasive than the Welsh while Wales were more cohesive and, judging by the end of the match, fitter. This is probably understandable as the South Africans had had very little time together.
The South Africans may have found the chatterbox referee unusual. After all, for them, English is a second language!
There were three incidents of neck tackles at close quarters. The first one, against Wales, was just a penalty but the next two produced yellow cards, one for South Africa and one for Wales.
The first penalty, against Morgan Morris, gave Gianni Lombard his first kick at goal and the South Africans led 3-0 after 24 minutes. His second kick was a long one but again it flew true. 6-0 after 27 minutes.
South Africa's excellent flyhalf, Damian Willemse, kicked a long rolling ball a long way downfield. Will Talbot-Davies, who had an excellent game, saved but his kick into touch produced a five-metre line-out for South Africa. Salmaan Moerat caught the ball, South Africa formed a maul and drove it over the line for a try credited to hooker PJ Botha. From far out Lombard converted, his last successful kick of the match. 13-0 after 32 minutes.
Just before half-time Rhys Carre, the big Welsh loosehead prop, had two startling runs downfield which could well have led to tries.
After two minutes in the second half, Phil Jones, the Welsh flyhalf, goaled a penalty. 13-3.
South Africa kicked a penalty out for a line-out and from it right wing Mike Mavovana raced through a gap at speed. When he was brought down South Africa went wide left where strong Rikus Pretorius broke and sent Wandisile Simelane over in the left corner with two team-mates open next to him. 18-3 after 43 minutes.
Wales won the ball in their own half near the touchline on their left and substitute flyhalf Ben Jones kicked the ball a long way downfield. Lombard caught the ball on his own 22 and started running. A deceptive, speedy runner, he beat opponents and was well over the half-way line when he gave to Damian Willemse who gave to Simelane who made good ground till tackled. The ball came back to the South Africans and Willemse, under pressure, picked up a rolling ball. Suddenly he started working his feet in a way that would have made Phil Bennett proud. He stepped and raced over the 22 to about three metres from the goal-line where he gave to Pretorius who scored under the posts. 23-3 with 20 minutes to play.
It was from now on that Wales began to dominate the running, much of it thanks to Talbot-Davies. A counterattack of his led to a scrum to Wales five metres from the South African line but the South Africans destroyed the Welsh who were penalised.
Scrumhalf Dane Blacker tapped a penalty a long way out and raced for the line, desperately close when he lost the ball in a tackle at the line. Another penalty to Wales produced and attacking line-out and a maul which they shunted across the field for a try credited to Jordan Liney. Ben Jones converted. 23-10 after 62 minutes.
Liney was in the action four minutes later when he beat two defenders and gave to Talbot-Davies who scored. 23-17 with four minutes to play, and Wales had a distinct chance of victory but when the match ended SA Schools were attacking.
For SA Schools:
Tries: Botha, Simelane, Pretorius
Pens: Lombard 2
Tries: Liney, Talbot-Davies.
Cons: B Jones 2
Pen: P Jones
Wales: 15 Will Talbot-Davies, 14 Corey Baldwin , 13 Cameron Lewis, 12 Ben Thomas , 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Phil Jones, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 William Jones, 6 James Ratti, 5 Callum Bradbury(captain), 4 James Botham, 3 Christian Coleman, 2 Corrie Tarrant, 1 Rhys Carre.
Replacements: 16 Tom Mably, 17 Jordan Liney, 18 Connor Lewis, 19 Will Griffith , 20 Joe Thomas, 21 Owain Leonard , 22 Ben Jones, 23 Ryan Conbeer.
SA Schools: 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Mike Mavovana, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Sihle Njezula, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Khanya Ncusane, 7 Muller Uys, 6 Charl Serdyn, 5 PJ Steenkamp, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Nathan McBeth.
Replacements: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Reece Bezuidenhout, 18 Johan Neethling, 19 Ben-Jason Dixon, 20 JC Pretorius, 21 Richman Gora, 22 Ruan de Swardt, 23 Manuel Rass, 24 Muller du Plessis, 25 Emilio Adonis, 26 Khwezi Mafu.
Referee: Matthew O'Grady (England)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Nathan Barry (South Africa)
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans (South Africa)