Rugby union: Wales' men suffer 41-13 defeat to South Africa at Twickenham

Wales showed fight but could not overcome the experience and power of South Africa. Credit: PA Images

Wales suffered a tough defeat against South Africa as Warren Gatland's team looked to put the final preparations in place before a gruelling series Down Under against Australia.

With the side still rebuilding after losing several senior players recently, it was always going to be a difficult game.

However, there was hope in the fact four of the last six matches between the two nations before Saturday had been decided by five points or fewer.

Key players were missing from both teams, including Jac Morgan for Wales and South Africa's captain Siya Kolisi.

Jesse Kriel opened the scoring for South Africa within the first 4 minutes of the game. Credit: PA Images

There was some experience on both sides though. Liam Williams brought up his 90th Wales cap.

Making his international debut, South African fly half Jordan Hendrikse showed early nerves as he missed what should have been a relatively comfortable penalty.

Moments later though, the much more experienced Jesse Kriel put the first points past the Welsh defence as he combined with teammate Makazole Mapimpi to get over the try line.

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Rio Dyer saw yellow and was sent to the sin bin as he worked to desperately stop another try. Trouble was compounded when no. 8 Aaron Wainwright joined him, leaving Wales with just 13 men on the pitch.

It meant Wales were left, temporarily, with only one flanker in the scrum.

Sam Costellow struggled at times kicking between the posts, although an impressive moment of skill to excite the crowd left South African Mapimpe on the floor as he fell for a dummy kick.

South Africa suffered their own moment of poor discipline just before the half an hour mark, with full back Aphelele Fassi sent to the sin bin for a high boot.

With two players in the sin bin, Wales were temporarily without a flanker in the scrum. Credit: PA Images

Wales exploited having the extra man as Dewi Lake secured Wales' first try within a minute of Fassi seeing yellow. This time Costelow had no problem converting.

A penalty from the fly half after a South African knock-on meant there was just one point separating the two sides as they headed towards half time. The southern hemisphere side - who were technically the home team for the match at Twickenham - led 14-13 going into the break.

However, South Africa extended their lead to 8 almost as soon as the second half started thanks to another try by Kriel.

Wales managed to reduce South Africa's lead to 1 going into half time but the game got away from them after the break. Credit: PA Images

As the game wore on, Gatland opted for experience in the form of scrum half Gareth Davies, who came on to replace 24-year-old Ellis Bevan.

With almost an hour played, Wales had a close call for a try but it was denied by the television match official (TMO), who could not see if the ball had been grounded.

Power from the bench made the difference for South Africa with veteran hooker Bongi Mbonambi scoring a converted try to extend their lead to 34-13 with little more than 10 minutes to play.

Saturday's game was the final preparation before Warren Gatland's team travel to Australia for three Test matches. Credit: PA Images

Victory was sealed for Rassie Erasmus's side as speedy winger Edwill van der Merwe slipped through the Welsh defensive line for another converted try - South Africa's fifth of the match - to secure a final score of 41-13.

It means Wales have now failed to win in seven matches and are yet to earn a victory this year.

Things will not get much easier for Wales as they next travel to Australia to play the Wallabies in three Test matches, starting on Saturday 6th July in Sydney.

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