The Springboks hinted at a new attacking approach for the next Rugby World Cup cycle as they opened their 2024 campaign by cruising to a 41-13 (halftime 14-13) victory over Wales at a sunlit Twickenham in London on Saturday.

The Boks showed an eagerness to move the ball with quick, short passes between backs and forwards and it directly resulted in two of their five tries in a performance that offered promising evidence of an evolving gameplan.

There was also evolution in playing personnel with four players making their debuts in flyhalves Jordan Hendrikse and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, and wing Edwill van der Merwe, and loose forward Ben-Jason Dixon.

Of the new flyhalves, Hendrikse landed three out of four kicks at goal after a nervy miss of an easy first shot, while Feinberg-Mngomezulu was tested with a first from from 53 metres, which he landed with aplomb, on his way to three from three.

Wing Van der Merwe crowned his day with an outrageous try under the posts from 40 metres out. It was outrageous in that the door appeared to be barred as he picked up at a centerfield ruck, before somehow evading two would-be tacklers and having the pace to surge under the crossbar.

There was some obvious early season teething troubles but overall the coaching staff could be satisfied – particularly after shaking off second quarter imprecision to keep Wales scoreless in a second half in which the Boks added three tries to score 27 unanswered points.

The Springboks had started in such sparkling fashion and were 14-3 up within 12 minutes as a callow Welsh combination struggled to stop the dam wall being completely shattered.

Hendrikse fluffed a straightforward penalty opportunity 30 metres out and from in front in the second minute, pushing it to the right, but the Boks brushed it off straight from the drop-goal restart.

No 8 Evan Roos gathered the kick in his own half and, after he was brought down, the ball was moved to the left wing by fullback Aphelele Fassi and openside Kwagga Smith for centre Jesse Kriel to exchange a one-two of passes with Makazole Mapimpi for the No 13 to go over untouched halfway out.

Hendrikse converted and although Welsh flyhalf Sam Costelow took the chance to interrupt the green tide by taking three points from a penalty (not rolling away by Franco Mostert) the Boks were straight back on the attack.

The Boks were straight back on the attack and Roos made a 45-metre down the centre of the field from halfway. The Boks’ chances of a quick recycle and score were hampered by offside by Welsh wing Rio Dyer – who was yellow carded for his offence – and two minutes later he was joined by his eighthman, Aaron Wainwright, guilty of collapsing a ten-metre rolling maul, said referee Chris Busby.

Busby awarded the penalty try and the Boks were up and running at 14-3 before finding themselves wandering into a brief wilderness of errors and penalty concession to allow Wales a brief period of success.

It got scrappy as the Boks were unable to punish opponents reduced to 13 for eight minutes. Instead, Costelow kicked a penalty (Malcolm Marx adjudged not to have rolled away) and they might have scored a try if scrumhalf Ellis Bevan had held onto a pass from wing Liam Williams who intercepted a pass under pressure from Hendrikse.

Wales were back to 15 when it was the turn of the Boks to lose a man to the bin when Fassi’s flailing boot connected with the neck of Welsh fullback Cameron Winnett as the former came down from collecting a box kick.

Wales kicked the penalty to the corner and although lock Eben Etzebeth won the lineout – to tap back on the Boks’ side – Wales hooker Dewi Lake was the quickest to react and collected a few metres out to dive over.

Costelow converted and added a penalty (deliberate knock on by Roos) six minutes before halftime to close the gap to one point (14-13) and give the Bok camp pause for thought.

They obviously had. Wales did not get a look-in after the break as it started much as the first had with swift hands moving the ball down the backline from 40 metres out to end with Mapimpi crossing in the corner.

Hendrikse converted from close to the touchline and added a penalty from 40 metres to stretch the lead to a more comfortable 11 points (24-13) in the 49th minute as the Boks rediscovered their mojo.

Roos was held up over the line shortly afterwards before being replace by Jason-Dixon as coach Rassie Erasmus emptied the bench.

Feinberg-Mngomezulu landed his shot from halfway after coming on before another replacement, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, scored from a rolling maul.

By now it was all one-way traffic. Wales bravely hung on, making their tackles and hoping for penalties or Bok mistakes but they rarely threatened although they were held up over the line on one occasion.

Van der Merwe’s smart footwork and pace gave him his debut try on a faultless day for the Emirates Lions wing and as the final whistle went it the Boks pushing for a sixth against a now punch drunk Welsh team.

Springboks (14) 41 (Tries: Jesse Kriel, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi, Edwill van der Merwe, penalty try. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (2) Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (2). Penalties: Hendrikse, Feinberg-Mngomezulu) Wales (13) 13 (Try: Dewi Lake. Conversion: Sam Costelow. Penalties: Costelow)

South Africa: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 23 Damian de Allende.

Wales: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Mason Grady, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 James Botham, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Dewi Lake (captain), 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 James Ratti, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Eddie James, 23 Jacob Beetham.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Adam Leal (England)
TMO: Mark Patton (Ireland)