Springboks snatch last-gasp win as Wales pay price for four yellow cards in Pretoria

By Sports Desk July 02, 2022

World champions South Africa required an 83rd-minute penalty from Damian Willemse to defeat an indisciplined Wales side 32-29 in Pretoria.

The Springboks' first home match in front of a crowd since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup was an epic – albeit not the sort the South Africa fans might have anticipated.

Despite four yellow cards that saw Wales squander a half-time advantage, Wayne Pivac's men almost rescued a remarkable result, only to be denied at the last.

Two Louis Rees-Zammit tries gave Wales a commanding lead, but Dan Biggar headed to the sin bin shortly before the interval, and Bongi Mbonambi powered over following the restart.

Malcolm Marx also crossed, and the visitors appeared to have collapsed after Cheslin Kolbe's try was followed by a yellow card for Alun Wyn Jones – the awarding of which caused some confusion.

Rees-Zammit went from hero to zero as his desperate attempt to stop a South Africa try saw him join Jones on the sidelines, and Wales were down to 12 men and behind when Rhys Carre's intervention resulted in a penalty try.

But the tourists did not lack spirit and sensationally drew level again through Dewi Lake with 13 on the pitch, only for Biggar to marginally miss the posts with the conversion when he could have secured a late lead.

Instead, Biggar's knock-on at the other end allowed Willemse to kick the Springboks to a memorable triumph to begin this three-Test series, which continues in Bloemfontein next Saturday.

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    Shaun Edwards warned France will be in for a "hiding" against Ireland in the Six Nations next weekend if they fail to raise their game after clinging on to beat Italy 29-24.

    The defending champions needed a Matthieu Jalibert try with 14 minutes to play at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to start the defence of their title with a bonus-point win.

    First-half tries from Thibaud Flament, Thomas Ramos and debutant Ethan Dumortier put the holders well on course for victory, but an Ange Capuozzo score and three Tommaso Allan penalties meant they only led 19-14 at the break.

    A penalty try that also resulted in Charles Ollivon being sent to the sin-bin and another three points for Allan sensationally put the resurgent Azzurri in front with just under 20 minutes to play.

    France were able to extend their winning run to 14 matches courtesy of Jalibert's finish, but they had to withstand late pressure and Allan missed a kick at goal as Italy fell just short of claiming a famous victory.

    Les Bleus face Ireland, the world's top-ranked side, at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday and defence coach Edwards says their winning streak will come to a juddering halt if they fail to improve on their display in Rome.

    He told ITV Sport: "First half, we were quite dominant. They came on leaps and bounds in the second half and obviously at the end it was a very tight affair, but we are in a good habit of winning tight games at the moment.

    "It happened against Australia, against South Africa, it's happened in a few games.

    "Hopefully we can continue that habit, but I think we all know if we don't put up a better performance next week we'll be on the end of a 15-30 point hiding."

    Indisciplined France conceded 18 penalties, although Edwards suggested the count should not have been so high.

    "Certainly against the defence it's something I will be looking at this week and I'll be honest, I've been in the game for 20 years and that's the most penalties I've ever had against the defence.

    "It's something we pride ourselves on with the French team in particular and all the way through with Wales, Wasps, etc. We'll have to go through it in detail with the referees, because it's the first time my defence has been penalised so much."

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    The Azzurri fell short of a famous victory in Rome against the reigning champions after Matthieu Jalibert's late try saw Les Bleus scrape the win.

    Having been the competition's regular whipping boys for many years, Italy showed further signs of progress under coach Kieran Crowley in the narrow loss.

    Allan acknowledged it was a difficult result to take after leading late in proceedings, but stressed there will be more improvement to come.

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    Allan missed a penalty with six minutes to go which would have trimmed the gap to just two points in the closing stages.

    The fly-half acknowledged a successful effort there would have changed the complexion of the game and tasked himself to deliver going forward.

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    Matthieu Jalibert came to the rescue as France started the defence of their Six Nations title with a 29-24 bonus-point win over resurgent Italy in a thriller at Stadio Olimpico.

    Les Bleus extending their winning run to 14 Tests, but the Azzurri came agonisingly close to producing a famous upset in Rome on Sunday.

    Thibaud Flament, Thomas Ramos and Ethan Dumortier crossed in the first half for the holders, but they only led 19-14 at the break following an Ange Capuozzo try and three Tommaso Allan penalties.

    A penalty try that also saw Charles Ollivon depart to the sin-bin left Italy only 22-21 down and Allen's penalty put them in front with just under 20 minutes to play.

    Jalibert came off the bench to score the decisive try 14 minutes from time, though, with indisciplined France withstanding late pressure to cling on after Allen missed a penalty.

    France were gifted an early lead by a Stephen Varney box kick that Flament charged down and coasted in for a simple finish, but Allan reduced the deficit to 7-3 with a penalty.

    Ollivon had a try ruled out for a knock-on following another Italy error, but Ramos was on hand to dot down a loose ball after neither Capuozzo nor Damian Penaud were able to gather Romain Ntamack's cross-field kick.

    Allen was on target with a second penalty before another pinpoint Ntamack kick to the left flank put a first Test score on a plate for Dumortier, Ramos adding the extras.

    The Azzurri continued to pose a threat of their own and the livewire Capuozzo finished superbly in the left corner, with Allen missing the conversion but slotting over a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

    Ramos made no mistake from the tee early in the second half, but Italy were only a point down when referee Matthew Carley awarded them a penalty try and showed Ollivon a yellow card for bringing down a driving maul after 52 minutes.

    Allen sensationally booted Kieran Crowley's side in front just before Ollivon returned, only for Jalibert to crash over after taking a sublime offload from fellow replacement Romain Taofifenua to put France back into the lead.

    Italy were not finished yet, but Allen was unable to send another kick between the posts and Les Bleus dug in under big pressure in the closing stages to avoid an upset.

    Capuozzo sparkles again as Italy show they are on the up

    Italy ended a seven-year wait for a Six Nations win by stunning Wales 22-21 in Cardiff last year and also beat Australia in November.

    They were denied a stunning victory over Les Bleus, but showed they must be taken seriously and France-born full-back Capuozzo gave another demonstration of his class with a great finish in another eye-catching display.

    Wake-up call for France in World Cup year

    France did not do themselves any favours as they conceded 18 penalties, just about holding on to extend their long winning run.

    This should serve us a wake-up call as they strive to follow up their Grand Slam triumph last year, with a Rugby World Cup starting on home soil starting in only seven months' time.

    What's next?

    France head to Dublin for a huge battle with Ireland next Saturday, with Italy travelling to Twickenham to face England on Sunday.

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