Rugby Union: Thomas sent off as Wales succumb

Gauteng Falcons 39 Wales 37
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The Independent Online
WALES HAD their flanker Dean Thomas sent off as they fell to their fourth successive poor defeat in South Africa last night.

Thomas, who had only arrived as a tour replacement 36 hours before kick-off, was dismissed in the 62nd minute of his Welsh debut for a straight-arm tackle on Gauteng Falcons' Len van Riet. As the 22-year-old Swansea forward left the field at Van der Bijlpark escorted by the Wales team doctor, Roger Evans, a glass bottle thrown from the crowd narrowly missed him.

Wales were trailing 27-20 when the incident which led to Thomas receiving his marching orders occurred. Van Riet cut inside off his wing and was poleaxed as Thomas attempted a despairing cover tackle. The South African referee, Carl Spannenberg, had no hesitation in issuing the red card.

Wales, however, responded with a brave fightback in the final quarter which took them closest to a victory in any of their four matches in the Republic to date. The tourists were eventually outscored by six tries to four after a free-flowing second half, but their coach, Dennis John, will take heart from the recovery as he prepares his squad for Saturday's Test against the Springboks.

John Funnell, Paul Arnold, Lenny Woodard, and Mark Taylor all managed to score their first tries of the tour for Wales, who were also indebted to three penalties and three conversions which were kicked by the Ebbw Vale outside-half Byron Hayward.

However, once again the Welsh were ultimately let down by a slow start in which they conceded two straightforward tries. That is an area of their game which they must improve before they face the Springboks.

Gauteng Falcons Tries Geyer 2, Strydom, Lourens, Moyle, Booysen. Conversions Van Straaten 2, Vvan As. Penalty Van Straaten.

Wales Tries John Funell, Paul Arnold, Lenny Woodard, Mark Taylor. Conversions Byron Hayward 4. Penalties Byron Hayward 3.

Gauteng Falcons: Matthys; Geyer, Lourens, Meyer, Van Riet; Van Straaten, De Kock; Williamson, Van der Walt, Le Roux, Schroeder, Boardman, Strydom, Rossouw, Volschenk.

Wales: Williams; Woodard, G Evans, Funnell, Rees; Hayward, John; Morris, Jenkins, B Evans, Arnold, Stephens, Lewis, Thomas, Wyatt.

Referee: C Spannerberg (S Africa).