South Africa vs. Wales: 1st Test Score, Recap and Post-Match Reaction

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2014

South Africa Springboks Bryan Habana, left, tries to run with the ball as World XV's Pat Cilliers, right, try to stop him during their game in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday, June 7, 2014.  (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
Schalk van Zuydam/Associated Press

South Africa dismantled Wales in their first Test meeting. The Springbok were rampant from the start, eventually cruising to a 38-16 victory.

The win was a homage to the pace and power South Africa attacked with from the opening whistle. They simply fired into every scum, and once they found space, the South Africans bolted through gaps.

Wales simply couldn't cope with the speed of play. Their resistance was broken early by the coltish Bryan Habana.

His first try was captured brilliantly on the Sky Sports Rugby Twitter account:

Habana's run set the pattern for a first half demolition job. The Boks continued to manufacture space with quick distribution to powerful runners.

The only reply from the Welsh came courtesy off the boot of Dan Biggar:

But every time they needed to, South Africa simply stepped on the gas. They let their superior athletes such as Habana take over:

South Africa kept the pressure on before the interval. They played relentless, forward-thinking Rugby that denied the Welsh the chance to recover and adjust.

The Boks' quick-strike capability established a commanding advantage at half-time:

But there was little mercy after the break. That was despite efforts from Wales coach Warren Gatland to shake up his ranks:

However, those changes did little to alter the inevitable outcome. The Sringbok continued its dominance on home turf, with Willie Le Roux and Francois Louw particularly impressive.

Louw had been called out by Wales prop Paul James prior the the game, per Andrew Gwilym of The Daily Express:

Frans has not been in touch yet but I can tell you he is going to have a bit of Welsh banter off me soon. I'm sure the texts will be flying round so he might want to steer clear of his phone.

I've really enjoyed playing with him. He is world class and a real leader so he will be one for us to watch.

Keeping him quiet will be a big part of the series. We are missing guys in the back row, but the guys we have out here have been playing well all season and are relishing the opportunity.

But once the real action began, it was Louw whose actions spoke louder than any words. He drove South Africa forward, ensuring they stayed strong in the scrum.

Meanwhile Le Roux was always dangerous from the restart: 

Le Roux epitomised South Africa's lethal blend of strength and speed. His lightning pace provided the perfect complement to the raw power of a player like Cornal Hendricks.

It's a balance the Springbok has not always had. But the emergence of La Roux has added another dimension to coach Heyneke Meyer's team.

In fairness to the Welsh, their preparations for this game had been hampered by the absences of several key stars. Paul Rees of The Guardian revealed the extent of the Wales injury list:

Olivier was summoned after Juan de Jongh was ruled out for the rest of the month with pneumonia. The new pair joined up with the squad little more than 24 hours before the kick-off against a Wales side boosted by the recovery of wing George North from a virus. While the men in red are without four injured Lions – Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Richard Hibbard and Justin Tipuric – Warren Gatland has his first-choice three-quarter line available and his team will have an advantage behind to exploit if they achieve parity at forward.

Those proved to be key losses that particularly restricted Wales' ability to pose South Africa problems in forward areas. It didn't help that South Africa were excellent at limiting space and pinning the Welsh deep.

Habana's brace established an impressive record:

Afterward, South Africa captain Victor Matfield lauded the range of talent, coming into the side. Matland reserved special praise for the impact made by the exciting youngsters on display:

Matfield has hit the right note. South African are perfectly balanced, in both the blend between experience and youth, as well as pace and power.

That's a combination sure to make them feared in future matches. As for Wales, Gatland faces a lengthy rebuilding job after this hammering in Durban.

Gatland had suggested his team was good enough to beat the Boks, per BBC Sport. But his eyes will have been opened wide by the ease with which his players were dominated physically.

Gatland noted in his post-match comments how his team failed to resist South Africa's physicality, per

We were out muscled physically in the first half.

It was a lot better second half but we need to learn quickly for next week.

We can create opportunities next week. It's disappointing, like it was two years ago in Australia.

They won the collisions in the first half but the boys got to grips with the speed of the game in the second half.

Some of the guys who came off the bench did very well and Dan Biggar had a good game.

We have to work hard on the breakdown this week and we need to be more competitive in the collision area.

It's a big challenge to get the boys back up but if we can improve it will make things a lot easier for us.

There's no escaping the fact Gatland needs more energy in key areas. Without it, Wales will continue to be overwhelmed whenever they face elite opposition.