Siya Kolisi paid tribute to Springbok centurion Eben Etzebeth and 50-Test hooker Bongi Mbonambi after the duo celebrated their respective milestones by helping South Africa claim a series win over Wales. DYLAN JACK reports.
The world champions overpowered Wales in Cape Town on Saturday to clinch the series as Etzebeth became the youngest South African to earn 100 Test caps, and just the third of seven Bok centurions to mark the occasion with a win.
Etzebeth was named Man of the Match, yet Mbonambi also put in a solid performance against the Welsh and scored a crucial try towards the end of the first half.
“I thought as a team, we really played today,” said Bok skipper Kolisi post-match. “We had so much to play for. A lot of people have a lot to say. We had a plan and the whole squad knew what the plan was.
“We always want to learn while winning. It was a pity that we didn’t win last week. We stuck to the plan this week and treated this like a final. Wales have a strong team, they challenged us these past three games.
“We had to make this special for us as a team and for the country, but also for Eben and Bongi. I am grateful that they didn’t make it about themselves. They want the team to win first. They have been amazing for us as a team. We can never question their character or what this team means to them.”
Despite racing 10-0 ahead and taking a nine-point lead into the break, SA came under pressure in the second half as Wales reduced the deficit through the boot of captain Dan Biggar.
However, unlike the Boks’ performance in Bloemfontein where a much-changed lineup let a 12-3 lead slip, a more experienced outfit in Cape Town kept their cool to push on and seal a 16-point victory.
“We had the momentum in the first half but we knew they were going to get their moments in the game and it’s all about how long we allowed that to be,” Kolisi said. “They got those two penalties and we made a plan. We focused on the discipline because we were attacking really well.
“We didn’t think they would go over and score. We kept our discipline, kept our structure and stuck to the plan, and things started swinging our way.”
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images