A rejuvenated South Africa defeated Wales 30-14 at DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday to win the three-match series 2-1.
Springboks coach Jacques Nieneber brought back eight members of the 2019 World Cup-winning team in response to last week’s 12-13 defeat in Bloemfontein that saw this Welsh team become the first Wales team to beat the Springboks on South African soil.
Fly-half Handre Pollard contributed 20 points, including a try and 15 points from his boot. Bongi Mbonambi, who was celebrating his 50th appearance, and captain Siya Kolisi also scored tries for the world champions.
Wales responded through a try of their own by Tommy Reffell and a hat-trick of penalties from Dan Biggar.
After the match, Nieneber said the team was only focused on winning the match and the series and though they did, he was not entirely satisfied with the performance.
“It was a final for us and we just had to deliver! There wasn’t an option of not delivering,” Nienaber told the Springboks’ media team.
“It was not a polished performance. I think there’s a lot to be build. I thought the set pieces functioned well, but still there was a couple of hiccups there, at scrum time we’re still getting used to the brake foot thing, we will get better at that. We will have to build a lot in terms of where we are.”
The match was also a milestone for lock Eben Etzebeth who won his 100th Test cap becoming the seventh and youngest Springbok player to do so. The other six players to have hit a century of appearances for the three-time world champions are: Victor Matfield, Bryan Habana, Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit, Jean de Villiers and Percy Montgomery.
South Africa’s win meant they were the only Southern Hemisphere giant to avoid losing a series after New Zealand and Australia lost to Ireland and England, respectively.
It also sets the team in good form ahead of this year’s Rugby Championship campaign that kicks off on August 6 when South Africa hosts New Zealand at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The Boks will then host the All Blacks again a week later at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
South Africa has won the Rugby Championship, initially known as the Tri-Nations, four times but has only won the title once since the admission of Argentina in 2012.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)