South Africa ease to five-try win over Wales

South Africa centre Jesse Kriel scored the opening try against Wales

South Africa (14) 41

Tries: Kriel, penalty try, Mapimpi, Mbonambi, Van der Merwe Pens: Hendrikse, Feinberg-Mngomezulu Cons: Hendrikse 2, Feinberg-Mngomezulu 2

Wales (13) 13

Tries: Lake Cons: Costelow Pens: Costelow 2

World champions South Africa eased to a five-try victory against a spirited Wales side at Twickenham.

Warren Gatland's inexperienced and experimental side suffered a seventh successive international defeat.

Wales fans would have feared the worst when their side were trailing 14-3 after 15 minutes, as they were also reduced to 13 men after Rio Dyer and Aaron Wainwright were shown yellow cards.

Inspired by outstanding captain Dewi Lake, who scored a try, Wales battled back to only trail by a point at half-time but were scoreless in the second half.

Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi and Edwill van der Merwe added second-half tries in South Africa's first game since defeating New Zealand in the World Cup final in October 2023.

It wasn't the hammering many had predicted but Springbok power told in the second half.

Wales will now travel to face Australia in a two-Test tour while South Africa host Six Nations champions Ireland.

Missing from action

Wales' missing men list was considerable.

Absentees included the injured Jac Morgan, Tomos Williams, Taulupe Faletau and Adam Beard, with Gareth Anscombe, Josh Adams, Will Rowlands and Ryan Elias rested this summer.

Prop Henry Thomas was a late withdrawal with a foot injury, while English-based players Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Nick Tompkins, Tommy Reffell, Dillon Lewis, Archie Griffin and Josh Hathaway were unavailable because the match was played outside World Rugby's international window.

Springboks second row Eben Etzebeth had only one less cap than the entire Wales starting pack, with his side boasting 637 caps compared to Wales' 300.

Cardiff scrum-half Ellis Bevan made his debut and Mason Grady started a professional game at inside centre for the first time in another new-look midfield partnership with Owen Watkin.

This was a "home" game for the South Africans despite being 6,000 miles away in London, but there were more Springboks supporters on show.

They were missing Bulls players involved in the United Rugby Championship (URC) final, captain Siya Kolisi was absent because he plays his club rugby in France and Cheslin Kolbe, Damien Willemse and Lukhanyo Am were injured.

They had two new caps in wing Van der Merwe and fly-half Jordan Hendrikse but still included 10 players involved in the World Cup final matchday winning squad, including Pieter-Steph du Toit, Etzebeth, Faf de Klerk and prop Vincent Koch, who led the side out on his 50th cap.

Wales' start slow

Jesse Kriel has been playing his club rugby in Japan
Jesse Kriel has been playing his club rugby in Japan [Getty Images]

South Africa only took three minutes to score with Jesse Kriel and Mapimpi combining for the centre to dive over, and Hendrikse converted.

Sam Costelow scored Wales' first points with a penalty before Springboks number eight Evan Roos powered through and Mostert was denied a try by an offside from Dyer, who was shown a yellow card.

Wainwright was next to be sin-binned for a professional foul, as South Africa were awarded a penalty try.

After Costelow failed with a simple second penalty attempt a glorious try-scoring chance was spurned when the returning Liam Williams intercepted possession before feeding Grady, but Bevan could not hold onto the final pass.

Wales did not concede any points when down to 13 men, while South Africa had full-back Aphelele Fassi shown a yellow card for a high foot on Taine Plumtree.

Wales took advantage with Lake scoring after his side initially had lost a line-out, the captain pouncing on a loose ball to power over. Costelow converted and slotted over a penalty to reduce the deficit to one point at the break.

Williams had returned on the wing after missing the Six Nations because he was playing club rugby in Japan and he proved impressive in the aerial battle with some trademark high catches.

With fitness doubts for the Australia tour surrounding Thomas and Dillon Lewis, Wales received another tight-head injury blow when Keiron Assiratti limped off just before half-time to be replaced by Harri O'Connor.

Springboks class tells

The Springboks extended their lead after the break when Mapimpi outflanked the defence to score, despite the suggestion of a forward pass in the build-up.

They were able to bring on the front-row power of Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe and their scrummaging prowess was immediately evident as they created the chance for Hendrikse to kick a penalty.

Gatland would have been relieved when lock Ben Carter was only penalised for a tackle on Malherbe, especially given Wales' second-row injury concerns, with Matthew Screech handed his first Test start.

South Africa replacement Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu slotted over a penalty from inside his own half on his international debut before converting the score from replacement Mbonambi.

Three new Wales caps came in the second half in Scarlets centre Eddie James, Cardiff back Jacob Beetham, who slotted in at fly-half, and Ospreys forward James Ratti.

It was left to South Africa new cap and player-of-the match Van der Merwe to provide the final highlight with a brilliant finish.

Where now for Wales and Gatland?

Wales celebrate Dewi Lake try
Dewi Lake was captaining Wales for a fourth time [Getty Images]

Gatland is due to announce a 34-man squad on Monday to travel to play a two-Test series against Australia in Sydney and Melbourne, before a friendly against Queensland Reds on 19 July.

The Wales camp was rocked with controversy before the South Africa game after it emerged hooker Sam Parry had left the training camp of his own accord and not through injury.

Newspaper reports suggested Parry felt disrespected by Gatland and despite being named in the training squad, the Ospreys hooker had no chance to tour Australia with Lake, Elliot Dee and Evan Lloyd initially nailed on to fill the three berths.

Gatland says the door remains open to Parry and insisted he was clear in his conversations with the player.

Dee has since been ruled out with an ankle injury which means in the absence of Parry and the rested Ryan Elias, Cardiff rookie Efan Daniel has been drafted into the squad.

The Wales coach was given a vote of confidence by the Welsh Rugby Union in March despite leading Wales to bottom of the Six Nations for the first time since 2003.

His record so far in his second stint is 13 defeats in 19 internationals, slipping to 10th in the world rankings.

Wales are now heading to a country where they have not defeated the Wallabies in 55 years and 11 attempts. So the challenge continues.

South Africa: Aphelele Fassi; Edwill van der Merwe, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi; Jordan Hendrikse, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Malcolm Marx, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit (capt), Evan Roos.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Frans Malherbe, Salmaan Moerat, Ben-Jason Dixon, Grant Williams, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Damian de Allende.

Sin-bin: Fassi 30

Wales: Cameron Winnett; Liam Williams, Owen Watkin, Mason Grady, Rio Dyer; Sam Costelow, Ellis Bevan; Gareth Thomas, Dewi Lake (capt), Keiron Assiratti, Matthew Screech, Ben Carter, Taine Plumtree, James Botham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Evan Lloyd, Kemsley Mathias, Harri O'Connor, James Ratti, Mackenzie Martin, Gareth Davies, Eddie James, Jacob Beetham.

Sin-bin: Dyer 11, Wainwright 15

Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)

Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley (RFU), Adam Leal (RFU)

TMO: Mark Patton (IRFU)