WALES’ miserable record against South Africa and the southern hemisphere’s elite continues after the Springboks deservedly won at the Millennium Stadium, outscoring the hosts’ 3-0 in tries.

Captain Sam Warburton’s men were ravaged by injuries in the first half, losing Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams in the early stages and tighthead prop Adam Jones after just over half an hour.

Wales didn’t score a try and their attack was frequently blunt and unimaginative, the Boks utterly clinical in sharp contrast.

Head coach Warren Gatland’s record against the big boys of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia continues to be utterly wretched.

He has won just once against them in 2008 when Australia were beaten in Cardiff, losing 17 games in a row against the former Tri Nations sides since.

Wales started promising with a Leigh Halfpenny putting them into an early lead with a well struck penalty only for Morné Steyn to almost immediately cancel it out.

A beautiful break by centre Jonathan Davies caused havoc in the Boks’ defence and the visitors were penalised for hands in the ruck in front of their posts.

Halfpenny slotted over the kick to give Wales a 6-3 lead in a frantic opening.

And the intense pace continued when captain Jean de Villiers scored a sparkling try in the 12th minute after wing Bryan Habana was allowed to break from deep, Steyn converting.

In that passage of play, Wales cruelly lost centre Davies, replaced by Ashley Beck, and wing Williams, James Hook coming on for him to the huge cheers of the home fans.

The menacing Springboks pack bullied Wales when they were allowed to score too easily from a driving lineout five metres out, hooker Bismarck du Plessis crossing for the touchdown, Steyn adding the extras to give them a 17-6 lead.

Halfpenny’s third penalty brought Wales back into the game in the 24th minute with the Boks threatening to run away with things.

A horrendous misunderstanding saw Hook and number eight Toby Faletau combining to get in each other’s way under a high ball and gift the visitors with an excellent attacking position only for Wales to clear their lines.

The hosts mounted a promising attack with lock Bradley Davies tearing through only for his second row partner Alun Wyn Jones to knock on several phases later, Wales again wasting a golden chance.

The hosts then lost Jones to injury, Scott Andrews coming on for him but his role was a cameo for he only lasted nine minutes on the field.

Wales capitalised on a mistake, de Villiers knocking on a shocking pass to him.

A foot race ensued and they won a penalty, Halfpenny kicking it from a tricky angle to make it 17-12 after 34 minutes.

South Africa looked far more dangerous and purposeful with ball in hand and they threatened the home side’s line only for them to concede a penalty at the breakdown, Boks openside Francois Louw yellow carded for smashing hooker Richard Hibbard at a ruck.

Fly half Rhys Priestland inexplicably missed touch at a pivotal moment and a frantic and enormously entertaining half ended with the South Africans ahead by five points as Wales failed to capitalise fully on Louw’s absence.

A flat start to the second half, in which Paul James replaced Andrews, saw Wales fail to make in-roads, a number of good recycling passages by the forwards wasted by unimaginative back play.

Another fine long range penalty by Halfpenny brought his side to within two points after the Boks were penalised at a scrum on their put-in.

Referee Alain Rolland yellow carded Wales’s Gethin Jenkins and the visitors’ Coenie Oosthuizen, who had only just come, in the 57th minute after another collapsed set piece wich led to uncontested scrums for ten minutes.

The Boks should have extended their lead after their tighthead prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira knocked on with the try-line at his mercy.

The crowd held its breath when Pat Lambie had a long drop goal shot which fell short in the 60th minute and he should have put his side five points up when he missed a penalty attempt.

A defensive calamity by Wales saw scrum half Fourie du Preez score from his speculative kick, Preistland botching things up completely, although visiting centre Jacque Fourie was a mile offside, Lambie kicked the conversion as the Boks effectively ended the game as a contest.

Wales: L Halfpenny, G North, J Davies (A Beck 12), S Williams, L Williams (J Hook 12), R Priestland, M Phillips (L Williams 72), G Jenkins, R Hibbard (K Owens 63), Adam Jones (S Andrews 31, P James 40), B Davies, Alun Wyn Jones (L Charteris 72), D Lydiate (J Tipuric 63), S Warburton (capt), T Faletau.

Wales scorers: Penalties – Leigh Halfpenny (5)

South Africa: P Lambie, JP Pietersen, J Fourie, J de Villiers, B Habana, M Steyn (W Le Roux 19), F du Preez (R Piennar 78); T Mtawarira, B du Plessis (A Strauss 66), F Malherbe (C Oosthuizen 56), E Etzebeth (P-S du Toit 69), F van der Merwe, F Louw, W Alberts (S Kolisi 66), D Vermeulen.

Replacements: G Steenkamp, R Pienaar, JJ Engelbrecht.

South Africa scorers: Tries – Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis, Fourie du Preez, Conversions – Morné Steyn (2), Pat Lambie, Penalties – M Steyn

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

Attendance: 66, 490