Rugby Union: Springboks sweet and sour

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The Independent Online
Wales A 13 South Africa 25 The Springboks had hoped they had left the fuss over foul play in New Zealand but whether this was really the case lay in their own hands - or at their own feet - and last night's victory over the Welsh second string was sourer than it ought to have been.

The cause was the wild footwork of Kobus Wiese as he stamped on the elongated figure of Derwyn Jones lying prone on the Rodney Parade turf. A fight ensued with Piet du Randt in particular to the fore, leading the infuriated Stuart Davies, the Welsh pack leader, to point Du Randt towards the dressing-room.

Tony Spreadbury, on the other hand, confined himself to a solemn referee's warning for Du Randt, and not Wiese, once attention had been drawn by his touch-judge, Jerry Wallis. Du Randt is known as 'Os', or Ox, after his wrestling exploits as a youngster and this seemed to betray the mentality of an otherwise noble beast, even if Wiese had appeared the more heinous offender.

Later, the other South African prop, Tommie Laubscher, also got the finger-wagging for treading on Stuart Davies and later still there was official admonition for both hookers. In between time, the Springboks made just as many basic errors as their colleagues had against Cardiff four days earlier, only this time they had occasional, rather than torrential, rain as an excuse.

If Du Randt needed a reminder how ox-headed his and Wiese's actions had been, he had it first by winding up the crowd into a frenzy which then helped add a venomous edge to Welsh tackling. The end-result of this was that a game pottering along at 3-3 after penalties by Adrian Davies and Hennie le Roux suddenly turned in favour of Wales.

A Springbok attack was forcibly ended when Japie Mulder was hammered by Steele Lewis. Matthew Back and then Nigel Walker booted upfield and finally Walker displayed his Olympian speed before dropping on the ball for a try when Gavin Johnson failed to touch down as it rolled excrutiatingly over the line.

Davies's conversion gave the A team a seven-point half-time lead - an unlikely reflection of the balance of the first-half play which in any case had been eradicated before the second half was five minutes old. Le Roux landed his second penalty and then Kevin Putt, the scrum-half originally from New Zealand, emerged from a ruck of forwards for the first South African try.

Now at last the Springboks were not only winning the ball but managing to keep it in the tackle and for a few misleading minutes they threatened to give the tour a far greater lift than it eventually got. Tinus Linee's try and Le Roux's conversion gave them sufficient margin to open their tactics beyond kicking up the touchline. But it was not until Rudi Straeuli added a third try and Le Roux the second conversion 10 minutes from time that anything came of these better intentions.

Meanwhile, Adrian Davies kicked another penalty for Wales A and by the end it was the Springboks who looked the more relieved. We should not necessarily be deceived, however as they fielded only four of those who trounced Argentina 12 days ago.

Wales A: Try Walker; Conversion A Davies; Penalties A Davies 2. South Africa: Tries Putt, Linee, Straeuli; Conversions Le Roux 2; Penalties Le Roux 2.

WALES A: M Back (Bridgend); D Manley, S Lewis (Pontypridd), M Taylor (Pontypool), N Walker; A Davies (both Cardiff), P John (Pontypridd, capt); I Buckett (Swansea), B Williams (Neath), L Mustoe (Cardiff), P Arnold (Swansea), D Jones (Cardiff), S Davies (Swansea), S Williams (Neath), R Appleyard (Swansea). Replacement: M Griffiths (Cardiff) for Mustoe 66.

SOUTH AFRICA: G Johnson (Transvaal); J Olivier (Northern Transvaal), M Linee (Western Province), J Mulder, P Hendriks; H le Roux (all Transvaal), K Putt (Natal); P du Randt (Orange Free State), J Dalton (Transvaal), T Laubscher (Western Province), J Wiese, P Schutte (both Transvaal), R Kruger (Northern Transvaal), R Straeuli (Transvaal, capt), E van der Bergh (Eastern Province). Replacement: G Teichmann (Natal) for Kruger 55.

Referee: A Spreadbury (Bristol).

(Photograph omitted)