Salem Radio Network News Thursday, February 22, 2024

Sports

Rugby-Superb South Africa put Wales to the sword with 52-16 win

CARDIFF (Reuters) -Wing Canan Moodie and centre Jesse Kriel ran in a brace of tries each as South Africa flexed their considerable muscle with a thumping 52-16 victory over Wales in their Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture in Cardiff on Saturday.

Wales coach Warren Gatland names his 33-player squad for the World Cup on Monday and will have learnt much about his team from this home humiliation, in which they were out-muscled up front and out-thought with ball in hand.

The Springboks scored eight tries in all as hooker Malcolm Marx, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and replacement back Damien Willemse also crossed to go with a penalty try, though they will be concerned over a high error count and some poor kicking.

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi made a successful return from long-term injury with a superb 40 minutes in his first international appearance in 2023 and will hope to add to that when the Boks play old foes New Zealand in a final warm-up fixture in London on Friday.

Wales were without a trio of injured but experienced players in Dan Biggar, Alex Cuthbert and Liam Williams – all late withdrawals from the starting XV this week – but Gatland will still be concerned by how easily his side were dismantled.

“They had a lot of changes in their starting line-up but we had a plan and we executed it today,” Moodie told Amazon Prime.

“Fortunately for me I’ve got the backing of the coaches and teammates to get the best of my ability. You want to make the most of the opportunities

“We have lots of competition as wingers but when you have the opportunities you have to use them.”

The visitors controlled the game, but will be worried by a poor showing with the boot from flyhalf Manie Libbok as he missed kicks off the tee and out of hand, though he was superb in running the ball from the number 10 position.

As the only specialist flyhalf in the Boks’ World Cup squad, they need him to fire in every facet and this performance was perhaps a reminder of what they are missing with Handre Pollard out with injury.

But there were boxes ticked in how they dominated Wales in the set-piece, gave minutes to returning injured players Kolisi and prop Ox Nche and were clinical in the home side’s 22.

The Boks led 24-9 at halftime as they ran in four tries in each half, while the Welsh wilted in the Cardiff sunshine. The home side bagged a late consolation try through replacement Sam Parry.

The Boks may yet have a concern over Willemse, who received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Dyer late in the game as they clashed heads and both left the field.

The “bunker review” kept his card at a yellow after deciding there were mitigating circumstances in that the wing was pushed into his path, the same defence England flyhalf Owen Farrell gave for his red card against Wales last weekend.

The citing commissioner could take a different view and it may be an anxious 24 hours for the Bok camp with the versatile Willemse a key player heading into the World Cup.

“They’re some big boys and they were really tough to go up against,” Wales captain Jac Morgan said.

“They’re a great team South Africa. As a team we’re really disappointed, it’s something to work on. There’s a lot of learnings, a lot of positives.”

(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Hugh Lawson)

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