The Springboks gave Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi a memorable day on their respective milestones by powering to a series victory in the third Test over Wales in Cape Town on Saturday.
In front of a capacity Cape Town Stadium, the Springboks outmuscled Wales to claim a 30-14 win and seal the three-Test series on the day that Etzebeth and Mbonambi ran out for their 100th and 50th appearances, respectively.
Having claimed a nail-biting win in the first Test in Pretoria and lost the second in Bloemfontein, this was a return to power for the Springboks as their heavy artillery fired on all cylinders to simply overpower a gutsy Wales effort.
Etzebeth became just the third Springbok to taste victory with his 100th Test cap and he definitely deserved it for the shift he put in. From the outset, the big lock was making huge carries, big tackles and received a standing ovation from the crowd when he left the field in the 60th minute.
Mbonambi also put in a solid performance on his 50th and scored a crucial try towards the end of the first half as Wales threatened to get back into the match.
After receiving some criticism for his performance in Bloemfontein, Pollard returned to form with a sensational general’s performance having him score a haul of 20 points for a perfect day off the kicking tee.
A fast start from the Springboks had the home side flying into a 10-0 lead after the opening 15 minutes. Under Jacques Nienaber, the Boks have had a penchant for starting sluggishly, but came out guns blazing, with strong carries from Etzebeth and Lood de Jager in particular.
Both teams tested each other sternly under the high ball, but South Africa coped far better in this department than they did in the previous two Tests, with the back three of Damian Willemse, Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe all winning the ball back in aerial duels.
Despite having tries from Mapimpi and De Allende correctly chalked off, the Boks were still able to make their dominance count when Pollard bashed his way over and converted his own try.
The home side suffered a blow when Cheslin Kolbe was forced off in the 20th minute, his mouth bleeding and evidently concussed. That prompted a backline shuffle as Willie le Roux came on, with Willemse moving to centre and Lukhanyo Am to the right wing.
That change seemed to disrupt the Boks’ momentum as Wales worked their way back into the match, starting with flank Tommy Reffell’s try, before skipper Dan Biggar slotted a penalty to make it a two-point game.
However, the Springboks worked their way upfield thanks to an outside break from Siya Kolisi, winning a penalty and opting for touch. From the subsequent lineout, Mbonambi forced his way over the tryline on his 50th appearance to make it a nine-point game at the break.
Wales again threatened a comeback in the second half as two cheap penalties from the Springboks allowed Biggar to narrow the deficit to just three points.
However, that was when the Springboks turned to their famed Bomb Squad and it paid almost immediate dividends as Siya Kolisi powered over for the home side’s third try after some strong carries from Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch. Pollard converted to take the Boks to a 10-point advantage, which they never surrendered despite coming under some heavy pressure from the Welsh pack.
After seeing out one final push from Wales, the Springboks pinned the tourists in their own territory and Pollard sealed the result with two further penalties.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images