Wales see off Kings 34-12 in SA tour opener
PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) — Flanker Dan Lydiate proved he’s fit to meet the Springboks by playing a full 80 minutes as Wales warmed up for the two-test series with a 34-12 win over the Eastern Province Kings at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday.
With back-rows Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton absent from the touring party due to injury, Wales coach Warren Gatland handed Lydiate the captaincy and called for him to show that he was back up to test pace after recovering from a hamstring injury.
He duly led the tourists to a convincing victory, as they made light work of a weak provincial team that was playing its first competitive match of the year.
Josh Turnbull, Cory Allen, James Hook, Alex Cuthbert and Gareth Davies all scored tries, while Hook added a penalty and three conversions from the tee.
Wales rested leading players including tour captain Alun-Wyn Jones, props Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins, scrumhalf Mike Phillips, flyhalf Dan Biggar, and No. 8 Taulupe Faletau for the first test on Saturday in Durban, however they had no problem dominating their hosts early on as Turnbull scored in a rolling maul and Allen went over after some sweet passes.
Rhodri Jones’ yellow card was the only blemish in a first half that ended with Wales 17-0 up, and they soon added to that lead as Hook and Cuthbert dotted down within seven minutes of the restart.
To their credit, the Kings, who threatened from the second quarter on, finally rewarded their pressure by scoring two of the game’s last three tries. In between, Wales substitute Gareth Davies had a try denied by a forward pass then took then took matters into his own hands by outpacing two defenders for a classy try on debut.
Wales 34 (Josh Turnbull, Cory Allen, James Hook, Alex Cuthbert, Gareth Davies tries; Hook 3 conversions, penalty), Eastern Province Kings 12 (Siviwe Soyizwapi, Simon Kerrod tries; George Whitehead conversion). HT: 17-0.