Match ac­tion

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page - ■ By PETER JACK­SON at Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium

BACK at the fam­ily sheep farm on the other side of the world, Hadleigh Parkes grew up in fan­ci­ful pur­suit of a fairy­tale Test de­but. It be­came a re­al­ity yes­ter­day in a man­ner far beyond his wildest dreams.

The no­madic New Zealan­der achieved it 12,000 miles away from New Zealand’s Gar­den of Eden, not in All Black but as the lat­est Kiwi to be ini­ti­ated into the Red Dragon Brother­hood, fol­low­ing a trail blazed by Hemi Tay­lor al­most a quar­ter of a cen­tury ear­lier.

On the day he com­pleted his three-year res­i­den­tial qual­i­fi­ca­tion, the 30-yearold Scar­lets cen­tre needed no more than seven and a half min­utes to in­tro­duce him­self with some manna from heaven for his adopted coun­try.

A sec­ond try fol­lowed by a price­less win and the man-of-the-match medal to boot gave Wales some­thing to shout about at the end of a pun­ish­ing Au­tumn se­ries.

Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen could not have made a bet­ter job of the Parkes script had he writ­ten it him­self.

The Spring­boks played their part in the fantasy of the oc­ca­sion, shep­herd­ing Parkes into the his­tory book be­fore be­lat­edly wak­ing up to the re­al­ity that they were en­gaged in a Test match as op­posed to an end-of-sea­son romp.

Their start, lethar­gic to put it po­litely, meant that Parkes could look back on his big day and pick out

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau as his most chal­leng­ing mo­ment. “I am glad I didn’t muck it up,’’ he said. “You dream of these sort of days. It’s a huge priv­i­lege and hon­our.’’

Rarely can a new­comer have been as on-song from start to fin­ish.

Even when the Boks even­tu­ally woke up and the old fail­ings be­gan to un­der­mine Wales, they had enough left to en­sure Parkes’ start would be a win­ning one rather than a de­mor­al­is­ing ex­am­ple of how to lose a big lead.

In­stead, aided and abet­ted by South Africa’s strange sub­sti­tu­tion of the pol­ished Han­dre Pol­lard for the fum­bling El­ton Jan­tjies, Wales came from be­hind to clinch the win from Leigh Half­penny’s penalty 12 min­utes from time.

In al­lowed them to sal­vage some­thing mean­ing­ful from a se­ries high­lighted by the discovery of an open­side wing for­ward of gen­uine in­ter­na­tional class in Josh Na­vidi.

It is also to Wales’ credit that they could still find a win­ning team de­spite los­ing a com­plete one through in­jury and un­avail­abil­ity.

They wasted no time do­ing what Ire­land had done to telling ef­fect in Dublin four weeks ear­lier, sub­ject­ing the hap­less Boks to an aerial bom­bard­ment. It re­duced them to a sham­bles on such a scale that they were for­tu­nate not to have con­ceded four tries within half an hour.

Hav­ing soft­ened them up with the gar­ry­owen, Dan Big­gar duly un­hinged them with a cross-kick for the first try and a grub­ber for the sec­ond.

The first, barely five min­utes into the match, found Hal­lam Amos in splen­did iso­la­tion on the right touch­line for Scott Wil­liams to come steam­ing through on the inside.

The Boks barely had time to re­alise what had hap­pened when Wales caught them in even greater dis­ar­ray. Big­gar’s stab­bing kick into an area in front of the South African posts ought to have been dealt with by any one of four de­fend­ers.

As each left it to the other, Parkes nipped through the dither­ing quar­tet, picked up and scored in one fell swoop. Given a try of stark sim­plic­ity seven min­utes into his de­but, the New Zealan­der could have been for­given for con­sid­er­ing the Test rugby lark to be a piece of cake.

All he had to do was hang around for the Boks to of­fer him a sec­ond slice. It duly ar­rived once Big­gar charged down An­dries Coet­zee’s lazy clear­ance but even then Wales needed a huge slice of luck.

Fale­tau’s lobbed inside pass al­lowed Parkes to ap­ply the fin­ish­ing touch de­spite the No.8 hav­ing been in an off­side po­si­tion, one which went un­de­tected pre­sum­ably be­cause no­body whis­pered in Jerome Garces’ ear that it might have been worth a look.

Wales, in no po­si­tion to look a gifthorse in the mouth, were al­most out of sight at 21-3. They al­most cer­tainly would have been had St­eff Evans made the most of an in­ter­cept some ten min­utes ear­lier.

In­stead of back­ing him­self to go all the way, Evans’ de­ci­sion to kick in­stead be­trayed a lack of faith in his own horse power. The pony-tailed Dil­lyn Leyds averted the lat­est in a se­ries of crises which plunged the Boks into an al­most per­ma­nent state of em­bar­rass­ment.

There were times when Mal­colm Marx ap­peared to be play­ing Wales on his own, when he alone gave the im­pres­sion that Wales had been given a big enough start. South Africa’s im­mense hooker played a lone early hand in re­mind­ing the hosts that it would be a con­test after all.

He had a try dis­al­lowed but only after pro­tracted video anal­y­sis. The rul­ing went against Marx but not be­fore it ap­peared that he had got the ball down on the line. There are times when the TMO raises more ques­tions than an­swers.

For all their faults, die Bokke cre­ated the try of the match. Leyds, seiz­ing a long punt from Big­gar deep inside his own half, ap­peared to have nowhere to go other than the sanctu-

ary of the touch­line.

One missed tackle was all the Storm­ers’ wing needed to live up to his name, tear­ing through Wales in mid­field be­fore fling­ing a long pass to Jesse Kriel on the left. Hemmed in, the cen­tre’s kick off the out­side of his right foot dropped per­fectly for War­rick Ge­lant’s Olympian pace to beat a de­spair­ing Aled Davies to the touch­down.

Two sec­ond half tries from Han­dre Pol­lard and Kriel sug­gested the Boks would make the un­like­li­est of es­capes un­til Wales stood firm after forc­ing them to con­cede the de­ci­sive penalty, against Sharks’ back rower Dan du Preez for not rolling away at a ruck.

And so ev­ery­body got some­thing out of the Money Match, the only one out­side the Test win­dow. Wales cleared more than £2m, South Africa got £750,000 for turn­ing up and Premier Rugby Ltd will col­lect at least £60,000 from fin­ing Bath for re­leas­ing Fale­tau.

No­body, though, got more out of it than the farmer’s boy from a one­horse vil­lage on the road to Lake Taupo.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Pace to burn: El­liot Daly scores for Wasps in their tight win over Le­ices­ter

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

De­but de­light: Hadleigh Parkes dives over for his first Test try

Fight­back: Han­dre Pol­lard scores the sec­ond try for South Africa

Rapid start: Scott Wil­liams touches down Wales’ opener

Gas man: War­rick Ge­lant cel­e­brates his try

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