South Africa and Australia maintained their long winning streaks against Wales and Italy, while England blew hot and cold in beating Argentina as the autumn internationals began in earnest.
The Springboks emerged 24-15 winners in a bruising encounter in Cardiff on Saturday, making the most of limited possession to score tries through Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis and Fourie du Preez for a 14th straight victory
over the Welsh since 1999.
The Springboks had less possession but outscored the Welsh three tries to nil, with captain Jean de Villiers and hooker Bismarck du Plessis crossing within six minutes of each other in the first half and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez grabbing the crucial third in the 65th minute.
Leigh Halfpenny kept Wales in the game with five penalties in a flawless kicking display but Warren Gatland’s side lacked the cutting edge and accuracy to end a barren streak against South Africa stretching back to 1999.
The Springboks play Scotland and France in their other matches this month to end a year when they were beaten to the Rugby Championship title by New Zealand in a thrilling decider.
Australia ‘back on track’
Australia responded to losing to England last weekend by running in seven tries in a 50-20 thrashing of the Italians, who have never beaten the Wallabies in 16 attempts.
“I think a lot of things are back on track,” Australia coach Ewen Mckenzie said.
“It was a really good scoreboard for us particularly when we were 10-0 down. The guys worked through that and even in the end there we showed some character.
“We showed potency in attack and worked hard through the game to score those points. So there was consistency there and we had to work hard in defense at different times. They came at us pretty hard too.”
The English made it two wins from two this month, scoring three first-half tries before fading badly after the break in a 31-12 success at Twickenham.
Ireland outclassed Samoa 40-9 and Scotland beat Japan 42-17.