Wales 18-23 South Africa: Marx try the clincher as hosts suffer cruel blow

By Sports Desk November 06, 2021

South Africa held their nerve in a terrific tussle to win 23-18 against a Wales side who were left to bemoan the moment a pitch invader cost them a likely try.

On a wet evening at the Principality Stadium, this game remained on a knife-edge throughout, the only points coming from the boots of Dan Biggar, Handre Pollard and Frans Steyn until Malcolm Marx crossed the Welsh line seven minutes from the end.

Elton Jantjies booted a penalty with the last kick of the contest, resulting in the five-point winning margin.

Wales had been level at 15-15 in the 63rd minute when a spectator burst onto the pitch and got in the way just as a chance to break through the South Africa defence presented itself.

Liam Williams looked to have a near-enough clear run to the left corner, but the presence of the intruder, with security staff looking to grapple him away from the action, meant momentum went and the chance was lost.

This was a thundering clash throughout, South Africa handling the early threat posed by Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit, as Biggar and Pollard kept the scoreboard ticking along.

Both sides had a player yellow-carded for persistent team infringements before the break, with Ox Nche and Rhys Carre sent to the bin, and Wales led 12-9 at the break.

The hosts nudged 15-9 ahead but were pegged back to 15-15 as South Africa rallied after a penalty from within his own half by Steyn. Wales then moved in front again after Biggar's sixth penalty, which followed moments after the intruder was escorted away, with supporters in the stands directing their anger his way.

South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi sprinted through to dot down but a TMO review picked up an offence and chalked it off. There was no denying the Boks in the 73rd minute though, when they drove irresistibly over the Welsh line, Marx grounding the ball.

Jantjies, on for Pollard, missed the conversion attempt from close to the touchline, meaning South Africa were just two points clear, but Wales could not find a response.

Close... as it was bound to be

It is now the case that 13 of the last 15 meetings between these teams have been decided by single-figure margins, with 11 of those games seeing the sides separated by six points or fewer at the final whistle.

Friend or foe?

It was unclear how or why the intruder came to be on the pitch, but Wales had every cause to be furious about the fan's presence. There was no doubt he was a distraction just as Wales got themselves into a position to threaten the try-line. Had Wales got over at that stage, there might have been a very different outcome.

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