Sunday 18 February 2018

Welsh have England in their sights after record defeat of feeble Boks

Wales 27 South Africa 13

Justin Tipuric makes a break to score the second try for Wales during their victory over South Africa. Photo: Getty
Justin Tipuric makes a break to score the second try for Wales during their victory over South Africa. Photo: Getty

James Corrigan

Bring on England! That was not quite the message after Wales finished off their rather confusing autumn series with this win against the wretched Springboks, but there is no doubt that the red-shirted victors are looking forward to the Six Nations and the visit of their old foes.

There may be 11 weeks to negotiate - as well as a trip to Rome for the opener - but the Welsh players were discussing the England confrontation straight after inflicting their record defeat over the Boks.

Springboks player Nizaam Carr looks on as George North of Wales races past. Photo: Getty
Springboks player Nizaam Carr looks on as George North of Wales races past. Photo: Getty

"We've already spoken about the Six Nations, and the next game at the Principality Stadium is England," scrum-half Gareth Davies said.

"We were fairly comfortable against South Africa, but I think we have got another couple of gears in us, and for us to beat England we are going to have to go through those. They are on great form, but I think it will be a hell of a game."

This was not a hell of a game; the South Africans were simply too poor. But Wales did what they had to, and in Justin Tipuric they had a man of the match who had them all talking in positive terms as they streamed out into the Cardiff night.

And following the opening 32-8 humiliation at the hands of Australia and the equally worrying 33-30 scare against Japan, three out of four was as much as caretaker coach Rob Howley could surely have hoped for.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 26: Alun Wyn Jones of Wales takes on Nizaam Carr of South Africa during the international match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 26: Alun Wyn Jones of Wales takes on Nizaam Carr of South Africa during the international match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Granted, the progress they have made hardly bears comparison to the great strides of England and Ireland, but there is something to build on.

This was their second home win in succession against the Boks, having only beaten them once in more than a century up to 2014, so it means plenty to the personnel.

"Our shape was a lot more accurate, we were a lot smarter but we can still improve a lot," said centre Jonathan Davies. "There are 13 players in the changing-room who have now beaten South Africa twice, and we can take a lot from that."

Howley also takes a few selection headaches into the festive period.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 26: Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss (r) reacts after the International match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 26: Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss (r) reacts after the International match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having dropped Jamie Roberts, the previously immovable inside centre, in favour of Scott Williams, there is a growing sense that Sam Warburton should be next as Wales continue to develop their expansive approach.

Any team craving to be an attacking force would surely be crazy to overlook Tipuric.

The manner in which he finished off his try would have made every three-quarter proud. When Taulupe Faletau came on for the stricken Dan Lydiate, Tipuric was seemingly granted more freedom. And with Ross Moriarty enjoying a fantastic autumn, Warburton's starting place has never seemed more vulnerable.

Of course, much can happen in three months. What does seem definite is that the Boks' head coach Allister Coetzee will be relieved of his duties.

Hammered against England, beaten by Italy and Wales, they merit their standing as the worst Springboks in living memory. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport