The world champions South Africa recorded their 10th successive win over Wales - but only after surviving a major scare at the Millennium Stadium.
Springboks too strong for Wales
The world champions South Africa recorded their 10th successive win over Wales - but only after surviving a major scare at the Millennium Stadium. Wales trailed by 17 points approaching the hour-mark, yet four James Hook penalties gave the RBS 6 Nations title holders hope of a famous win before they went down 15-20. They had not beaten the Springboks since 1999, and paid a hefty price for conceding 10 points during the opening nine minutes - and handing South Africa an interception try.
Hook, almost Wales' hero, also played the role of villain, as his first touch after replacing Stephen Jones was to find Jean de Villiers, rather than his team-mate Jamie Roberts. De Villiers sprinted from inside his own half to score, giving South Africa the degree of breathing space they required. Meanwhile, England ushered in a new era at Twickenham when they beat the Pacific Islanders 39-13 to kick off Martin Johnson's reign as the manager. The World Cup-winning captain Johnson named an adventurous line-up, including four new caps for his first Test in charge as he sought to revive the nation's rugby fortunes.
A crunching tackle by Jamie Noon on Aleki Lutui, which saw the Tongan hooker smashed into the turf, allowed England to halt an impressive start by the Islanders. In another match, the New Zealand-born fly-half Quade Cooper scored a try with seven minutes remaining as Australia beat Italy 30-20. With the score at 20-20, Luciano Orquera had a chance to put Italy in front but missed a penalty in the 67th minute at Euganeo stadium. Six minutes later, Cooper burst through for a try as Australia bounced back from its 19-14 loss to New Zealand last week. Italy host Argentina in Turin next Saturday.