Jenkins guides Wales past Springboks to extend winning streak

Wales 20South Africa 11

INDEFATIGABLE FLANKER ELLIS Jenkins was instrumental in helping Wales extend their winning run to nine games as they racked up a 20-11 victory over South Africa on Saturday.

Tomas Francis and Liam Williams crossed for first-half tries for Wales, Gareth Anscombe knocking over two conversions.

Handre Pollard got South Africa on the scoreboard with a penalty before Jesse Kriel crossed for a try early in the second-half.

Elton Jantjies kicked the Springboks to within three points before Dan Biggar banged over two penalties to ensure the home side’s longest unbeaten streak since 1999.

Jenkins, a late call-up to the starting XV after an elbow injury to Dan Lydiate, dominated the loose, produced a couple of vital turnovers and shored up a creaking scrum in a thrilling match at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium. But he was unfortunately stretchered off after falling awkwardly in the final play of the game.

The victory was Wales’ sixth win in 35 games against the Springboks, five of those having come in six games over the last four years. It also gave Wales a first ever four-from-four autumn Tests cleansweep, having gone into the game on the back of victories over Scotland, Australia and Tonga.

Two thrilling passages of early play went fully rewarded, first Exeter prop Francis crashing over from short range after Jenkins fooled South African hooker Malcolm Marx with a smart dummy.

Anscombe hit the extras as Wales camped out in the Bok half, showing a slick, clinical side to their play that would have delighted coach Warren Gatland.

Liam Williams crossed for the home side’s second try on the quarter hour, taking a lofted mispass from Anscombe and cutting back inside the covering Siya Kolisi.

When Adam Beard was pinged for offside, Bok skipper Kolisi opted against going for touch deep in Welsh territory, Pollard instead booting three points to get South Africa ticking over on the scoreboard.

Pollard went wide with his second penalty attempt as the frenetic pace of the opening quarter waned.

Anscombe, charged with Welsh kicking duties in the absence of concussed fullback Leigh Halfpenny, then saw a long-range kick come back off the posts.

When Bok scrum-half Embrose Papier shot clear from a messy line-out and grubbered past George North, it looked like he could have been in for a try, but a disorienting, stray arm from the Welsh winger and the covering Liam Williams doing enough to force a knock-on.

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South Africa piled the pressure on as half-time beckoned before Jenkins produced arguably the tackle of the match, managing to hold up the ball in Kriel’s arms over the line.

Pollard spurned a simple shot at goal as Wales went offside, Kolisi instead opting for an attacking scrum, but Jenkins turned over Eben Etzebeth to leave it 14-3 at half-time.

The visitors dominated possession early in the second period, again going for an attacking line-out rather than turn to the normally trusty boot of Pollard.

With the Welsh scrum also under enormous pressure, it was a tactic that finally paid off for the Boks, Willie Le Roux producing a brilliant flick pass for Kriel to cross for a deserved try in the corner.

Pollard was off target with the conversion, replacement Elton Jantjies stepping up to kick a 62nd minute penalty that saw the South Africans, with Toulouse winger Cheslin Kolbe a threat every time he got the ball, up to within three points of Wales.

But a crucial Jantjies knock-on gifted Wales attacking advantage and when Aphiwe Dyantyi held on in the tackle, Biggar booted a penalty to take the score to 17-11.

Jonathan Davies then broke clear and should have done better in drawing the last line of defence, Pieter-Steph du Toit producing a try-saving tackle on prop Rob Evans.

Ivan van Zyl went offside at the resulting ruck, Biggar booting his second penalty, before Jenkins fell in agony and was taken off by stretcher.

© – AFP 2018  

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