Cai Evans kicked 20 points to steer Wales to a 30-28 win against SA Schools in Stellenbosch on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
While Evans’ flawless goal-kicking was the determining factor in this contest, his excellent game management and solid defence in the flyhalf channel contributed hugely to Wales’ first-ever win against SA Schools. No 8 Len Greggains also had a big game for the visitors, and his efforts were reflected well by the two tries he scored.
SA Schools were just never in the fight at Paul Roos’ Markotter stadium. The hosts had the upper hand at the breakdown area, but their high error count, poor decision-making and execution, and brittle defending cost them the game.
A poor exit kick from inside their 22 by SA Schools led to a break by Tom Reffell down the right flank, and the movement was rounded off by Greggains. Evans slotted the conversion and added a penalty.
Kennedy Mpeku, one of four fullbacks in the starting XV, opened the scoring for SA Schools. But Wales were unrelenting on attack and every time they entered the 22, SA Schools cynically infringed, resulting in three more successful penalty attempts by Evans.
Trailing 19-5 at the break, a backlash was expected from the young South Africans. However, they looked devoid of any attacking prowess and bereft of ideas how to breach the Welsh defensive line. They did chip away at the scoreline via three penalties by flyhalf Christopher Schreuder, closing the gap to five points.
But as soon as the window of opportunity opened, Wales closed it down again with two Evans penalties either side of Greggains’ second try.
SA Schools dominated the last five minutes of the game. Replacements Mark Snyman and Morné Brandon finished off two well-worked team tries, and nuggety scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba converted on both occasions to set up a frenetic finale.
But with the ball falling their way again after the restart, another handling error halted SA Schools’ last attack and from the scrum, Wales hacked the ball into touch.
SA Schools – Tries: Kennedy Mpeku, Mark Snyman, Morné Brandon. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (2). Penalties: Christopher Schreuder (3).
Wales – Tries: Len Greggains (2). Conversion: Cai Evans. Penalties: Evans (6).
SA Schools –15 Kennedy Mpeku, 14 Qamani Kota, 13 Diego Appollis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Muller du Plessis, 10 Christopher Schreuder, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Travis Gordon (c), 7 Phendulani Buthelezi, 6 Vian Fourie, 5 Cristen van Niekerk, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Keagan Glade, 2 Ruhann Greyling, 1 Nkosikhona Masuku.
Subs: 16 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 17 Jordan Clarke, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Celimpilo Gumede, 20 Adrian Alberts, 21 Mark Snyman, 22 Dylan Richardson, 23 Henco Martins, 24 Jaden Hendrikse, 25 Yanga Hlalu, 26 Conan Le Fleur, 27 Morné Brandon, 28 Banele Mthenjane.
Wales – 15 Dylan Moss, 14 Tomi Lewis, 13 Tom Hoppe, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Dewi Cross, 10 Cai Evans, 9 Harri Morgan, 8 Len Greggains, 7 Dan Davies, 6 Tom Reffell, 5 Morgan Jones, 4 Joe Miles, 3 Ben Warren, 2 Will Griffiths, 1 Rhys Davies.
Subs: 16 Morgan Nelson, 17 Jordan Walters, 18 Josh Reynolds, 19 Lewis Ellis-Jones, 20 Ben Fry, 21 Taine Basham, 22 Callum Carson, 23 Scott Lloyd, 24 Tom Rogers.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images