|South Africa (17) 30th|
|Try: Pollard, Dealer, Collier Disadvantages: Bollard 3 Pencils: Bollard 3|
|Wales (8) 14|
|Try: second helping Pencils: biga 3|
Wales bravely failed to win a first series against the Springboks in South Africa as the hosts triumphed in Cape Town in the third Test decider.
South Africa’s Handre Pollard scored 20 points as hooker Bongi Mbonambi and captain Siya Kolisi crossed for tries.
Wales responded with a try for flanker Tommy Reffell and three penalties from Dan Biggar.
Taulupe Faletau and Gareth Anscombe were both injured late on by Wales.
It proved too far a game for Wayne Pivac’s side against the world champions as Wales failed to follow in the footsteps of Ireland and England, who had enjoyed series victories against New Zealand and Australia earlier in the day.
However, tourists can return home with pride and determination considering they had low expectations before arriving in South Africa three weeks ago.
After losing at home to Italy in the final game of that year’s Six Nations in March, Wales were written off against the world champions.
Most were expecting a 3-0 home series triumph, but Wales poked fun at the pre-Tour predictions ahead of the final.
The series was even after the hosts won the opening Test in Pretoria 32-29 and the visitors fought back with a 13-12 victory in Bloemfontein, the Welsh men’s first win over the Springboks on South African soil.
Wales’ hopes were dashed after suffering a double whammy before kick-off in Cape Town when number eight Faletau and substitute Anscombe were injured.
Faletau shook his head as he left the field after warming up with an injury to his side, comforted by Pivac and his absence prompted a rear row reshuffle with Josh Navidi moving up to eighth and Taine Basham coming on Bank.
Anscombe, who kicked the winner tag in the second test win, was absent with a rib injury.
South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber had returned to his tried and tested side after making 14 changes for the second Test loss.
Nienaber made ten other personnel changes for the final, with a squad similar to the side that fielded in Pretoria with 11 starters from the 2019 World Cup final triumph.
Only lock Eben Etzebeth started in all three Tests and led his side to their 100th cap.
South Africa started strongly as winger Makazole Mapimpi denied a try after his foot was touched in a Lukhanyo Am kick.
The Springboks had to settle for a Handre Pollard penalty. South Africa dominated the dogfight in the early changes and full-back Damian Willemse collected his own kick before being illegally dragged down by Biggar.
It laid the platform for Damian de Allende to attempt to seize power, but the center was seen as close.
The attack continued as the Springboks’ scrum dominance kicked into action as Wales kept hurting and the pressure eased as Pollard dived and converted.
Dan Lydiate was forced off with a blood injury after banging heads while trying to tackle Pollard.
Lock Alun Wyn Jones was used in place of flanker Basham while Will Rowlands switched to the blind-side flank.
With no possession or territory to begin with, the visitors began playing attacking rugby with center George North on the day he became Wales’ record goalscorer on his 105th appearance, a feature that featured prominently in the fluid preparation.
After bursts from North and Louis Rees-Zammit, Josh Adams set up supporting flanker Reffell to score.
South African winger Cheslin Kolbe was substituted and replaced by full-back Willie le Roux, while Willemse moved into the middle and Am switched to the right flank.
Wales’ set-piece problems and discipline gave South Africa the promotion, with referee Matthew Carley Biggar issuing a final warning.
The tourists calmed down and Biggar reduced the gap with a penalty.
South Africa fought back with a try from hooker Mbonambi on his 50th appearance from a driving maul. Pollard converted to give South Africa a 17-8 lead at half-time.
Wales brought on reinforcements from the front row at the break, with Sam Wainwright and Dewi Lake replacing Dillon Lewis and Elias before Biggar scored the opening points of the second half with a penalty.
South Africa were denied a third try when scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse’s pass to Am was ruled forward.
After the Springboks changed their front row, Biggar took Wales to three points with his third penalty.
After a poor play by Wales in their own 22, the Springboks retaliated with a try from captain Kolisi which Pollard converted.
Basham offered Wales dynamic ball carry after replacing Refell as Wales tried to regain the 10-point deficit, but an offensive lineout throw in South Africa’s 22 went crucially awry.
Their efforts proved in vain as Pollard sealed the win with two late penalties.
South Africa: Willemse; Kolbe, Am, de Allende, Mapimpi, Pollard, Hendrikse; Nyakane, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, de Jager, Kolisi (Captain), du Toit, Wiese.
Substitute: Marx, Kitshoff, Koch, Mostert, Smith, Louw, de Klerk, le Roux.
Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Adams; Biggar (Captain), Hardy, Thomas, Elias, Lewis, Rowlands, Beard, Lydiate, Reffell, Navidi.
Substitute: Lake, Wyn Jones, Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones, Basham, T Williams, Patchell, Watkin.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England).
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia).
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia).