Tighthead prop Dillon Lewis says Wales are relishing an even tougher battle up front against the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Wales led 18-3 at half time at Loftus Versfeld last week in the first of three Tests, but the 2019 World Cup winners mounted a stirring comeback to win 32-29 through a late Damian Willemse penalty.
The visitors, who had hoped to end a 10-match losing streak in the Republic since first touring SA in 1964, refused to be bullied by the Boks in a fiery clash at Loftus Versfeld, even if their approach had them ending up on the wrong side of referee Nika Amashukeli.
Lewis told reporters on Monday that despite Wales kicking off the tour with a loss, they won’t back down from the physical challenge posed by the Boks, or curb their similar aggressive approach.
“The Springboks were probably tougher, especially up front,” he said. “There’s a lot more to it than just running around, you know exactly where they are coming. There is the set-piece aspect.
“I’d like to think we took a bit to South Africa. We expected it to go there [to the gutter] and you always do when you play against them. It was physical, it was tough and we went to some dark places at times, especially around the 70th minute when I’m blowing out of my a**e but it’s always like that against them.
“I expect it to get a lot tougher over the next two Tests as well. It’s been a while since both teams have played together, so it’s only going to get better, more physical, faster. I expect it to get darker on Saturday.”
During the defeat by the Boks at Lotfus, Lewis was forced to return to the field after Wales lost substitute prop Tomas Francis to a concussion – he has since been sent home and ruled out of the remainder of the series.
Lewis added: “I didn’t have much time to think about it, to be honest. It wasn’t nice seeing Franny down the way that he was. It was quite a nasty one, so I was hoping that he was OK.
“I remember Nugget [team manager Martyn Williams] telling me to get back on. You don’t really prep for those situations, they just happen.
“It was definitely a test on the lungs and the legs. They’re big men as well, so it’s not just the running around that you have to worry about, it’s also trying to stop them running over you. It was a tough Test but an enjoyable one, probably one of my most enjoyable Test matches for Wales.”