IT WAS almost a perfect autumn for Wales after a resilient performance to beat South Africa in a bruising Test only for man of the match Ellis Jenkins to be carted from the field after an 80th-minute injury.

Warren Gatland’s men earned a first clean sweep by adding the scalp of the Springboks to wins against Scotland, Australia and Tonga.

Prop Tomas Francis and full-back Liam Williams scored tries but it took a gutsy defensive display to earn the spoils in the face of a brutal assault by the Boks in the second half.

Wales were starved of possession and territory but limited the visitors to a solitary try before Dan Biggar came off the bench to steer them home with a pair of penalties.

However, some shine was taken off the win when, with the game in the bag, star man Jenkins was helped from the field after an injury to his right leg.

The summer co-captain put in a monumental display and it will be a shame if, as seems likely given the way he was stretchered off, Jenkins is denied the chance to keep the jersey in the Six Nations.

Gatland said in the week that he is happy to go under the radar in World Cup year while others talk about New Zealand, Ireland and past winners England and the Springboks.

However, that is becoming harder and harder after Wales, ranked third in the world, took the spoils in a ninth successive Test against a big gun despite their preparations being disrupted.

They suffered the pre-match blow of the loss through injury of blindside Dan Lydiate and after just 11 minutes were forced into a reshuffle when Ross Moriarty suffered a blow to the head, bringing late call-up Aaron Wainwright into the fray.

The Dragons prospect slotted in at his preferred position at 6 with Jenkins, who had gone from bench to starter, shifting to number eight.

The Cardiff Blues back rower was simply immense while Wainwright can reflect of a fine performance in his biggest challenge in rugby.

The 21-year-old has only been playing the game for four years but made another giant leap by not looking out of place against an imposing South African pack.

He will have plenty of bruises as medals tomorrow morning and he suddenly has gone from being a Dragons academy flanker to a World Cup hopeful.

Wainwright isn’t the only one to be giving Gatland a headache with the four autumn successes showing that Wales are a side with depth and big players.

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South Africa went close to the opening score when flanker Pieter-Steph Du Toit crossed down the left, but only after he had planted his large left boot on the touchline.

Instead it was Wales that struck first through the most unlikely of sources with tighthead Tomas Francis put under the posts after a dummy and burst by flanker Ellis Jenkins, the Exeter prop promoting widescale ripping up of first try scorer betting slips.

Anscombe added the simple conversion and was soon adding a trickier one after he had conjured a second score with a floated pass from a scrum in the 22 that exploited poor defence for full-back Liam Williams to cross down the right.

Handre Pollard got the Boks on the scoreboard with a penalty but pulled another one as the visitors attempted to chip away at the lead against a Wales side still coming to terms with their back row reshuffle.

It was Wales’ turn for a miss from the tee when Anscombe’s 45-metre effort struck the left post on the half hour and it stayed 14-3 at half-time, much to the Springboks’ frustration.

First Jenkins got under Damian de Allende’s charge over the line in the 40th minute and then the visitors turned down an easy shot at goal to try and muscle their way over.

It backfired with Wales, who would have settled for an eight-point advantage, forcing the turnover.

Cliché alert – the first score of the second half was going to be crucial and Wales lived dangerously, needing three turnovers inside their 22 to retain their advantage.

But they couldn’t get out of their half and a scrum penalty was kicked superbly to the corner by replacement Elton Jantjies, followed by a penalty for dragging down a lineout.

The Boks were putting on the squeeze and it paid off when they hammered away at the line with brutality before a sumptuous Willie Le Roux pass put centre Jessie Kriel over for a cracking try to make it 14-8 approaching the hour.

Pollard pulled the touchline conversion and passed on responsibility from the tee to Jantjies, who banged over three points after Liam Williams ran the ball back into a Bok brick wall.

Wales had been starved of possession and pinned inside their own half, so would have been relieved to still hold an advantage inside the final quarter.

Yet they managed to stretch their buffer with a penalty from replacement Dan Biggar with 13 minutes remaining.

That settled Welsh nerves and a burst by Jonathan Davies, taken on by prop Rob Evans, led to an offside that Biggar punished with three points to make it a two-score game with eight minutes left.

Wales were never going to let the lead slip as they made it a perfect four.

Wales: L Williams; G North, J Davies, H Parkes (O Watkin 76), J Adams; G Anscombe (D Biggar 62), G Davies (T Williams 57); N Smith (R Evans 50), K Owens (E Dee 52), T Francis (D Lewis 52), A Beard (C Hill 67), A W Jones (captain), D Lydiate, J Tipuric, R Moriarty (A Wainwright 11).

Scorers: tries – T Francis, L Williams; conversions – G Anscombe (2); penalties – D Biggar (2)

South Africa: W Le Roux; C Kolbe, J Kriel, D De Allende (E Jantjies 45), A Dyantyi; H Pollard, E Papier (I van Zyl 50); S Kitshoff (T Du Toit 52), M Marx (B Mbonambi 52), F Malherbe (V Koch 46), RG Snyman (E Etzebeth 11), F Mostert, S Kolisi (captain), P-S Du Toit, D Vermeulen (F Louw 64).

Scorers: tries – J Kriel; penalties – H Pollard, E Jantjies

Referee: Luke Pearce (England) Attendance: 64,203