Wales scored 14 points in the first five minutes and then finished strongly to beat the Springboks 24-22 in the season’s final international. The defeat, a history-making second successive defeat to Wales, will end Allister Coetzee’s tenure as Springbok coach.
Coetzee, who won just four Tests in 12 in 2016 and lost 27-13 to Wales in Cardiff in the final Test of that season, won just seven in 13 in 2017, with the year also ending with defeat against the Welsh in Cardiff.
Coetzee’s Bok record is 11 wins from 25 Tests. He simply has to go.
Wales, since Warren Gatland took charge as coach, have won just four from 35 Tests against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Three of those four wins have been against the Springboks, with two of them coming in the last year.
Wales have only beaten the Springboks four times in the 33 Tests, and three of them have come in the last four Tests the two teams have played.
Ironically, a New Zealand-born coach and a New Zealand-born centre, were at the forefront of the Wales win. Gatland is a celebrated Kiwi and Hadleigh Parkes is a former Northland and Auckland Blues player, who qualified to play for Wales not he morning of today’s Test match.
Parkes scored two of the Welsh first half tries and was outstanding in his Test debut.
Wales lead 14-0 with less than 10 minutes to play and 21-3 after 35 minutes.
But a fantastic Springboks counterattack try reduced the deficit to 21-10 at halftime.
The Boks, despite losing captain Eben Etzebeth, were strong in the opening quarter of the second half and threatened a fantastic comeback to lead 22-21 after an hour.
It was to be the high of their match, with Leigh Halfpenny nailing his only penalty kick of the game to give Wales the lead 24-22 with 10 minutes to play.
Coetzee then substituted Malcolm Marx and Handre Pollard, two of South Africa’s most influential, players, and Wales found another gear to control the final moments of a game that was thrilling for the closeness in score but devoid of quality.
Then again, this was fifth playing seventh in the world and it showed.
The Boks, after this defeat, will in all likelihood finish the year at sixth, with Coetzee’s Boks’s only two wins in their last eight Tests of 2017 against France and Italy.
‘It’s been amazing. A dream come true,’ said Parkes in a BBC interview. ‘To be able to get a meat pie (try) and score a double on your debut is very special so I’m very happy.’
Wales lost to Australia and New Zealand in November and their only win was 13-6 against Georgia.
‘We wanted to finish 2017 off for the fans,’ said Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones. ‘We had two good halves against Australia and New Zealand and we had a purple patch from the first whistle but we managed to finish on a high. We’re disappointed with some of the results, but we’re looking to change things and come back stronger next year.’
Tries: Scott Willams, Hadleigh Parkes (2)
Conversions: Leigh Halfpenny (3)
Tries: Warrick Gelant, Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel
Conversions: Pollard (2)
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Hallam Amos, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rob Evans
Substitutes: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18. Rhodri Jones, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Owen Watkin
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Warrick Gelant, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Oupa Mohoje 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Lukhanyo Am