Kitshoff feasts in Bok defeat

The Springbok prop with the loud hair had no reason to be quietly sipping a beer on Saturday night after another tour loss in Cardiff under Allister Coetzee.

Steven Kitshoff’s performance in a 24-22 reverse against Wales was more massive than his listed weight. Aside from buckling Wales tighthead Scott Andrews at scrum-time, South Africa’s ginger loosehead finished as the most prolific ball-carrier with a match-leading 19 carries for 95 metres (second only to Wales winger Hallam Amos) and lined up on defence to take down 15 runners!

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Teamed up with hooker Malcolm Marx and anchorman Wilco Louw, Kitshoff powered a scrum that shunted the hosts and soon had the Welsh front row looking pleadingly to the bench for the mercy of an early substitution.

Though this set-piece ascendancy provided the set-piece territory that laid the foundation for the Boks to rally from a 14-0 deficit, the toll of climbing out of that hole gave Wales the edge when the game was on the line and fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicked the winning penalty.

Not for the first time on Coetzee’s watch, the Boks were beaten in the analysis room before the first whistle. Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar tore a rent in South Africa’s defence with two attacking kicks that put Scott Williams and then Hadleigh Parkes across the line in the first nine minutes.

And not for the first time on Coetzee’s watch, the Boks were forced to chase the game, which made them an easier target for Wales’ defence. Yet again, South Africa played more of the rugby – more carries, metres run, linebreaks, and tackle breaks – and lost against a team that invested in territory rather than possession with a volley of tactical kicks.

While they were out-coached, the Boks certainly weren’t lacking in grit. The tourists responded to being shredded in the opening exchanges with surprising composure and belief – and Kitshoff.

The burly prop gobbled up metres like cocktail sausages, clattering through the first Welsh defender to gain momentum and tee the Boks up for an unlikely comeback victory.

Unfortunately, momentum doesn’t turn itself into points and, though the tourists recovered to claim a 22-21 lead at the start of the final quarter, handling errors by Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies let Wales off the hook at crucial moments during promising attacking forays.

A look at all the Match Stats (WAL v SA):
WAL 24-22 SA
Halftime: WAL 21-10 SA
Tries: WAL 3-3 SA
Goal-kicking %: WAL 100-75 SA
Possession %: WAL 49-51 SA
Territory %: WAL 54-46 SA
Ball in play: 42 minutes

Attacking stats
Ball Carries:
WAL 106-133 SA
Metres run: WAL 633-818 SA
Metres per carry: WAL 6-6.2 SA
Linebreaks: WAL 1-4 SA
Tackle breaks: WAL 0-2 SA
Passes: WAL 168-164 SA
Good Passes: WAL 153-152 SA
Offloads: WAL 11-10 SA
Rucks won: WAL 76-114 SA
Rucks lost: WAL 7-2 SA
Mauls won: WAL 1-4 SA
Turnovers conceded: WAL 9-13 SA

Defensive stats
Turnovers won:
WAL 4-9 SA
Tackles made: WAL 184-190 SA
Tackles missed: WAL 8-4 SA
Tackle-success %: WAL 96-98 SA
Tackle turnover: WAL 1-0 SA
Dominant tackles: WAL 15-24 SA

Kicking stats
Kicks from hand:
WAL 33-25 SA
Metres kicked: WAL 963-834 SA
Metres per kick: WAL 29-33 SA

Error stats
Handling errors:
WAL 17-18 SA
Penalties conceded: WAL 6-3 SA
Scrum penalties: WAL 3-1 SA

First phase stats
Lineouts won:
WAL 13-9 SA
Lineouts stolen: WAL 0-1 SA
Scrums won:
WAL 6-5 SA
Scrums lost: WAL 0-0 SA
Own kickoff lost: WAL 5-5 SA

CLICK HERE for the full match and player stats from the game, or HERE for in-depth stats from the entire year-end tour.

- Zelim Nel