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Knock-out blow eludes Wales as Boks find sucker-punch

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Ben Dirs | 14:08 UK time, Sunday, 11 September 2011


It was the classic match-up: gnarled old champ versus young pretender; old smarts versus youthful vigour; seen it, done it versus still to prove anything much.

In a compelling World Cup encounter in Wellington, Wales proved they could be contenders one day. But you have got to rip the title away from a champion, and unlike in boxing, in rugby union scorecards rarely lie.

While you could not exactly see South Africa growing old on the pitch - with 815 caps shared between the starting XV going into the match, the joints had been creaking for some time - there were times when they resembled some ancient edifice being laid siege to, marauding Welshmen dismantling them bit by bit.

First veteran lock Victor Matfield was helped from the pitch, before battered skipper John Smit made way, and then wing Bryan Habana. With 15 minutes remaining, it seemed like we were witnessing the end of an era. And then somebody flicked a switch.

The old adage has it that a fighter's punch is the last thing to go, but actually it is his pride. Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis having been injected, South Africa bolted into life. A few desperate swings, and unfortunately for Wales, one of them connected.

Wales look shattered after narrowly losing to South Africa

Wales look shattered after narrowly losing to South Africa Photo: Getty

When the final whistle sounded, Welshmen fell to their knees all over the pitch: a mixture of sheer exhaustion and disbelief. It was a match Wales knew they should have won, a match everyone in the stadium and watching on television knew they should have won. And it was a match that made you wonder if they will ever have the belief that is needed to win the big ones when it matters.

Talent, Wales have in spades. Skipper Sam Warburton, 22, and his fellow back-row Toby Faletau, 20, put in monumental shifts. Fly-half Rhys Priestland, in only his fifth Test, had an assured game after a shaky start, while Jamie Roberts, playing on the gain line, was bone-judderingly direct.

Wales showed tremendous character, too. Beforehand, coach Warren Gatland had been typically bullish about his side's chances, but that all looked like so much foolish talk when Frans Steyn bounced off Shane Williams and James Hook for an early try.

Wales, it seemed, were destined to be broken on the steel-rimmed wheels of the South African juggernaut.

But Wales had confidence in their game-plan, which consisted of moving the ageing Springbok pack all over the park and creating space to work in. As the game wore on and the ball-starved South Africans grew more weary, Wales' three-quarters began to surge through gaps and blast through tackles, but, except for once, there was always a last line of defence.

There will be Wales fans who will say they were robbed. A first-half penalty by Hook sailed high over the right-hand post and he seemed convinced it had ducked inside, but referee Wayne Barnes chose not to refer it upstairs. Video replays were inconclusive at the time of writing - although new angles might have come to light since.

However, Gatland, to his credit, refused to blame Barnes for the defeat. "I'm proud of the effort the players put in but we didn't win the game," said the New Zealander. "We put ourselves in with a chance to win but I think we weren't quite good enough."

To be good enough a side has to deliver the coup de grace when their opponents are on the ropes and their defences are down, and Wales were unable to do that. First Priestland snatched at a very makeable drop-goal attempt, before Hook missed a late penalty from out wide. And down the stretch, they left themselves open to a sucker punch.

The Welsh public has had more than its fair share of false dawns when it comes to its national rugby team, but on the evidence of Sunday night, they have the core of what could become a very useful side. And they might get another chance to prove just how useful before this tournament is through.

Samoa and Fiji will not be easy, that is a given, but both of those sides will fancy their chances against a rickety South Africa, too. Consequently, and you never know, there is a chance that Wales could still win their group. And then? Given some of the wonky scorelines we have had in the last few days, which suggests a levelling of the playing field in international rugby, who knows.

On an opening weekend of a World Cup when upsets threatened but never transpired, Wales were perhaps the true stars. Not 'brave' or 'plucky' or any number of adjectives you will see in newspaper headlines, but a class outfit that does not realise just yet exactly how classy it is.


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  • Comment number 1.


    I'm gutted. This wasn't a valiant failed losing effort, it was a game that should have been won but wasn't. Very similar to England in their second warm up game against us. Don't want to pick holes in the display but needless to say if we want to be seen as a force in the sport games like this need to be ground out. It's what the best do and right now we do not. Still real optimism for us however painful it feels today.

  • Comment number 2.

    So would you rather be in the position of England with an ugly win, or in the position of Wales with a beautiful loss, Mr Dirs?

  • Comment number 3.

    Same old same old, the best we can ever seem to manage­ is a heroic defeat. Had we won that (like we should) we­ could have topped the group, had a more winnable QF,­ and then who knows ??? As it is loads of pressure now­ on Samoa and Fiji games, we'll no doubt play­ nothing like as well, might not even make it out of the­ group. It's no use putting in 'great­ performances', it's wins that count, and given­ that SA were there for the taking you can bet NZ, Aus,­ probably England, and probably even Ireland, would have­ won that game

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice write up Ben

    "To be good enough a side has to deliver the coup de grace when their opponents are on the ropes and their defences are down, and Wales were unable to do that."

    This sums it up for me.

    The best welsh display for years but ultimately they get nothing.

    Well that's not strictly true because they get a bonus point which may prove crucial in what look like a tight pool.

  • Comment number 5.

    It is a young team so I doubt too much physically will have been taken from this defeat. This a better result than most, including myself, expected so I think we can take this bonus point and have a greater chance of getting out of the group. Seeing as this is the first game there will plenty of time to make up for the missed oppurtunities.

    Also nice to see a few Dragons doing well for Wales.

  • Comment number 6.

    I will be honest, I didn't think Wales had the strength in depth to come close to winning this after their injury-riddled Summer Tests. To their great credit they should have. South Africa were unbelievably creaky and didn't look interested.

    The group will be a very tight one, I don't think South Africa are safe yet, but Wales were incredible and if they can get out of the group, they could be special. I can see them giving any team a scare and if they meet South Africa again, they will not lose.

    It would have been the biggest shock of the World Cup yet, and a few performances have been promising [Japan and Romania] but none were closer than the Welsh.

    South Africa maintain an unparalleled record. Only 2 losses in 5 World Cups.

  • Comment number 7.

    yet another negative and pointless article from Mr. Durrrrrs. For the best part of 80-90% of the match Wales were the better side, and for a good chunk of the second half 6 points ahead. Last time i checked Springboks were raining world champs, and they damn near lost today. Only positives should be taken from this yet good ole defeatest Dirs somehow sees this match as a disaster for Wales!?!

    England win against a tough side and they're rubbish.

    Wales just lose against the world champs and they're rubbish too.

    Stop printing this unhelpful, negative and overly critical drivel BBC. Our sporting stars get enough unecessary stick from the trashy media without dullards like this contributing to it. GO WALES! GO ENGLAND!

  • Comment number 8.

    Fair enough article although you didn't mention de Villiers going off after about 20mins which did give Wales the upper hand in the midfield. James isn't anywhere near the centre that de Villiers is.

    This was the opportunity that Wales had to really set alight the RWC alight as all the teams so far have struggled to get any sort of momentum going, however they let the game go in the first 10mins and the final 10mins and will make things tricky for them in future games.

    Wales have got the performance in and without any major injuries, could lead to a very good run. All about confidence.

  • Comment number 9.

    Steve, did you actually read the blog at all?

    Where does he say Wales are rubbish? And England were rubbish yesterday!

    Every blog is then permeated by people endlessly criticizing the author if they dare to point out any flaws or worse they don't actually read the blog and just rant away!

    God it's depressing

  • Comment number 10.

    Great performance, beat south Africa in all areas but the next step that Wales need to learn is to win when it is there to be won. I do believe that Wales will go far in this world cup and will do better than the other home nations. They came in on form and believe similar to the warm up matches against England, if they played south Africa again next week they would win. However, its a world cup and if they get through the group, Wales have to remember u only have the one chance. Every player was brilliant today especially the forwards!

  • Comment number 11.

    Firstly, well played Wales, all the key players put in big performances, back row and midfield excellent. However, they and we know that they had momentum in their game and failed to close the match out, but maybe the result will be benefit them in the draw.
    If they go on to finish 2nd in the group, they will probably play Australia in the quarter final, and that is a very winnable game on the evidence seen so far. A semi against England or France will hold no fears so they have a route to the Final!!!! A win in their pool, would have seen a potential quarter final match up with Ireland, followed by a semi-final against the ABs, route to Final very difficult.
    Finally, no more talk about the 3 points from the Hook kick being the difference between winning and losing. If it had been awarded, the game would have started from the half way and not the 22 and all the subsequent cation would have been different, including tries scored and missed drop goals.
    What we do know is Wales have more performances in them and could, given the scenario above just have a route to the Final, in the same way England did in 2007.

  • Comment number 12.

    #7 this article is only negative if you think the review of the game is incorrect and personally I think Mr Dirs has got this one spot on; Wales were on the front foot but failed to land the killer blow and you have to put sides with the drive and determination of SA away when you have the chance otherwise it will come back to bite you in the backside. Wales failed to do this when they were clearly in the ascendency and thats why they lost the game. This is an accurate and therefore good review of the game which is designed to develop some debate and therefore not pointless as you state!

  • Comment number 13.

    Another if only result

    On the positive side, full credit to Warren Gatland for getting the selection right and for the fitness and self belief Wales showed. Lets hope they can maintain the same intensity for the remaining group games.

    Never seen Luke Charteris play better for Wales, full credit to a much maligned player.

  • Comment number 14.

    Well I have to say.................... As a proud England fan, a very fine effort Wales. I can't believe I am saying this but I was actually cheering your boys on. A good game that had everything.I actually feel quite sorry for you.

  • Comment number 15.

    Same old story for Wales. Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. No matter well Wales played I just had this feeling that South Africa would win somehow. The Welsh probably have a mental block with the Boks as they have ony beaten them once.

    Wales can take alot from this game though. Still it is better to win win ugly than lose beatifully.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think we are seeing during this first round of games, that some of the 'easier' teams aren't as easy as they were thought. The problem the likes of Argentina and USA will have is sustaining their performances over four games of the pool.
    The same could be said of Wales, who will have the Samoans and Fiji playing a virtual knockout game against them.
    Nice to see some competitive games!

  • Comment number 17.

    Shame for Wales gave it everything unlucky. Have a feeling that Samoa and Fiji could be going to upset the World Champions, so Wales just got to make sure they win their remaining games.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great article, Ben! The first I've read which doesn't patronize the efforts of the welsh team. It's clear to see that they're a class outfit waiting to emerge and with a little more composure and a little less wind, they could have gotten the win.
    Having said that, world cup winners beat teams when they have them on the back foot, for long periods it looked like wales would kick on, but they're just short. There was an air of England 2001 in this wales performance. You can see a massive amount of potential, but they're a couple of big wins away from being world beaters.

  • Comment number 19.

    Gutted for Wales (England fan here) - the RWC is getting pretty predictable already. Even with valiant displayes from Romania, Wales and the unpredictablity in the comp the fact that NZ might not put 40 points on everyone...if that's it then this is boring.

  • Comment number 20.

    Let's not get carried away, one swallow does not make a summer. Remember that Wales have not won a match in the southern hemisphere since a pool match against Italy in 2003. Whilst that will undoubtedly change against Namibia, games against Fiji and Samoa have been very tightly contested in recent years and are by no means a formality. Indeed, without the win, the pressure now stacks up as these are effectively knockout games

  • Comment number 21.

    The sight of yet another Welsh team losing gloriously is beginning to pall. Whether it's a matter of self-belief (which is more than likely) or a culture which persistently assumes that simply playing well is enough, whether you win our lose (which is also very likely), it does nothing for Wales' chances in this World Cup. They're good - and indeed they're better than some of them think they are. But they'll still lose, and we'll still say 'Ah never mind, they played well' Other countries, especially from the Southern Hemisphere, have a killer instinct that we still lack.

  • Comment number 22.

    Very disappointed with the game plan in the last 20-25 minutes. You could quite clearly see SA were on their knees as many hadn't played Test rugby for a while. Gatland should've introduced Andy Powell with Bradley Davies to continue the brilliant direct running of Toby and Jamie. Tavis Knoyle should also have been introduced to create quick ball and further stretch the SA defence, which would hopefully have led to a Wales victory. Phillips brings loads of physicallity to his role, but his distribution isn't the quickest, and it was this that lost Wales the game.
    Let's hope they bring this level of intensity to the next 3 games, and then hopefully to the QF. Would be happy with a losing SF, and then 3rd place.

  • Comment number 23.

    Good summary Ben.

    Well played Wales! Exciting, young stars with tremendous futures. I sincerely hope this translates into a tremendous future for the team as a whole.

    As for the Springboks, this game was a symbolic 'changing of the guard'. The introduction of Bismarck, Alberts, Hougaard and Muller is what we can expect from the future of Springbok Rugby.

    Boks were on top for first and last 10min sessions, the crucial phases in a match. Wales were truly a 'team' today, and will no doubt figure a way to prevent their opposition from winning ugly. Recent matches between these two sides have shown that the Boks know how to win with only 30% possession. Wales need to find a way around this.

    Excellent example of what World Cup rugby is about (should be about).

  • Comment number 24.

    TV replays show Hook's 'missed' penalty DID go over at the last second. Any possibility the IRB will reverse the decision to let it stand, handing the result to Wales?

  • Comment number 25.

    @Tom Williams - alas, I think as the ref never gave it, nor did he refer it, it's game over..

    Reminds me of the misunderstanding a relative of mine had regarding the "disputed goals" panel at the world cup in 2006. He reckoned that the panel would see if a goal had been scored or not, potentially affecting results, rather than just who scored...

    A great performance from the Welsh, without that killer instinct to put them away when it really mattered.

    I reckon, truth be told every Englishman would prefer yesterday's bad performance and a win over today's good performance and a solitary bonus point....

  • Comment number 26.

    Well played Wales, think some of those players have a great future. And the loose trio certainly showed England how the breakdown should be handled.

    I disagree that the 'tv replays' showed the ball going over. It is impossible to judge from behind, with a telephoto lens and the distortion it brings, whether it curved before or after the post. Only those standing at the base of the posts can tell and you have to go with their judgement.

    Wales were unlucky, but South Africa produced arguably the worst World Cup performance in their history and got their selection wrong (Smit needs to give up his spot to Du Plessis, surely), while Wales produced probably their best WC performance in their history. Yet SA still outscored Wales 2 tries to 1 and won the game.

    Which just goes to show how far Wales still have to go and the difference between the sides. THe future looks bright for Wales though.

  • Comment number 27.

    @old white turning grey... What a poor way to sum up a valliant Welsh performance. If every Welsh player and fan had your attitude, Wales wouldn't even be at the world cup never mind being that close to skinning the current World champions. Ireland (My team) & England may have won but if I'm honest, the Welsh performance stripped these other two apart. Try getting behind the (your?)team. You never know, the addition of a doubter turned believer might just make the difference.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wales were magnificent. Warburton was immense, Wyn-Jones was awesome and Priestland really stepped onto the world stage today. Wales should have won this. Respect to South Africa as they should have lost but managed to dig deep to cut a winning, if not deserved, result. Very similar to England.

    Wales will finish second in the group and I am already salivating at the prospect of Australia v Wales!!!!!!!

    Great game.

  • Comment number 29.

    It's called killer instinct, people.

  • Comment number 30.

    At 17:17 11th Sep 2011, ScotsSevensNutjob wrote:

    South Africa maintain an unparalleled record. Only 2 losses in 5 World Cups.

    Lost 3 actually. 1999 semi-final adainst Australia, pool game against England and quarter-final against New Zealand in 2003.

  • Comment number 31.

    #30 - You're right, but perhaps he means the 1999 game was level after normal time. Still agree that's really a loss though, even though it came in extra time.

  • Comment number 32.

    Steve1 #7

    I haven't watched the game yet so I am no going to comment on this specific performance.

    So that aside, from a practical point of view this feels like a bit of disaster for Wales.

    1 - Once again they have not made that leap of going from nearly winning to winning. So often in the past they have come so close but always come up just short. Each time it hits the confidence and they have not learnt to win these games. The longer it goes the harder it gets.

    2 - They don't have an 'off day in the bag' - They now must win against Fiji and Samoa - they don't have breathing room. The Samoans next will now know a win against Wales will put the Welsh out.

    3 - Even if Wales do come through against the Samoans - it will almost certainly be Australia next. That hardly has a big 'w' next to it.

    So yes, I can agree with mr Dirs (which hurts to say) that it is bad bad news for Wales from a practical point of view.

    That said, it sounds like Wales did very well and on a performance perspective should be happy what went on.

  • Comment number 33.

    Nothing matters in a World Cup other than the result. To look for positives in a defeat does not help, it creates a feeling of being a victim of circumstance. Defeat should be condemned, and victory celebrated. In the UK we too often condemn victory and celebrate failure, so it's little wonder our teams struggle on the international stage.

  • Comment number 34.

    Warburton was brilliant, so was Priestland, but the Welsh game-plan was shocking, even though they were putting the South Africans under extreme pressure, they weren't converting them to points!
    What is Warren Gatland getting paid to do?

    South Africa started with a team that had a few question marks on!
    They also showed no interest after they scored the first try, it was as though they felt as if the game was won from that moment onwards! They were wrong!

    Something that hasn't been mentioned is the penalty James Hook kicked that looked like was "converted" but was "denied" by the touch judges! He asked for a tv replay, wonder what the IRB will make of that, because from where I was sitting (which is more than 18 000 miles away), it looked like it had gone through! Looking at it now, that conversion could've been the winner for Wales!

  • Comment number 35.

    Certainly prefer this to the previous blog.....

    However, i would like to point out that Argentina losing some of their players was seen as a reason why England managed to prevail, while SA losing both de Villiers and Matfield and not starting with the best number 2 in the world as similar mitigating factors (dismantaling is a bit of a harsh word for injuries!). It certainly made the rest of the match a bit more difficult IMHO.

    I know that Wales are missing players (as are all teams), but did want to point out the double standards between the two blogs. You can't call it both ways!

    However, as an England fan, both Wales and SA showed the reason why a real number 7 is required in international rugby, just wish we could find one who's not injured. This will certainly hurt us once the group stages are finished.

    Also, i'm still no sure who had the better result out of the two teams (England and Wales), as yes a win is a win, but as said in the blog, Wales should take heart from the result. Obviously to win the WC you have to beat the best teams in the world, so coming second may not be the worst thing to happen to Wales, but will make their games vs Samoa and Fiji very interesting. So to sum this up, nothing will be decided until the end of the group stages and all that will do is work out wether they will play a better team in the QFs instead of the SFs

  • Comment number 36.

    Move on Wales. You will get through to the QF and may get revenge against SA. Though that might be in Cardiff. You look the best of the Home Nations by a UK and Irish mile and it is good to see a strong Welsh team after years in oblivion

  • Comment number 37.

    “a match they should have won”

    “a win is a win”

    Which is actually the pernicious culture Ben?

    Some sort of moral victory or the points?

  • Comment number 38.

    I agree that Wayne Barnes should have referred the controversial moment to the TMO - it was surely a forward pass to Faletau for the Wales try, but nobody is talking about that!!!

    Lets stick to the facts. It was the best that Wales have played for 5 years, and the worst that S Africa have played for 9 years, but Wales still lost.

    All week various voices in Wales from the coaches, players to ex-players and pundits have talked about how they were going to win because they were better, fitter etc. This was based upon a narrow win against an awful England team, plus a good 50 minutes against Argentina.

    Wales (yet again) talked themselves up, but failed to deliver.

    Wayne Barnes did not cost Wales the game - the Welsh players did because they were not ruthless enough to put away S Africa when on top. Hook and Preistland failed to delvier with kicks late on which could have won the game.

    Still, nobody does perceived injustice like the Welsh!!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Wales played some immense rugby, back row were outstanding as were Hook and Priestland. But I agree with other posts about a lack of killer instinct- as soon as they get within 5 metres of the opponents goal line, they seem to lack the nous to know how to get the ball over the line for the try.

    This has been a problem for a few years and I question whether Rob Howley is doing a good job as attack coach.

    Two other points- interesting to see the only replacement Wales made was Bradley Davies for Alan Wyn Jones. I know Wales have done some hard work on fitness but did tired legs contribute to SA's second try?

    One major positive- No injuries (at least none reported yet). Considering the intensity and physicality of the game, that's nothing short of a miracle.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ugh, can people put this "penalty" controversy to bed? Look how we sound, "oh if that was given we would've won". We should have won anyway, except for the usual mistakes that cost us these tight games. The last tight game I can remember us winning was again France in the '05 Six nations.

    We should take a lot of heart from this and there are loads of positives. Roberts really does look back to his best. There were two periods in the game (one in each half) were Wales were a bit ponderous with players taking the ball standing still and getting hit backwards. I'd really liked to have seen him or North at first receiver as both were getting over the gain line consistently. We need to adapt to the flow of the game quicker, change our tactics and game plans according to how we and the opposition are playing.

    I didn't think Hook had the greatest game by his very high standards. He does a good job for us at Full Back but I feel he tries to get on the ball too much and also tries to making something happen every time he does instead of seeing what's on. End of the day Hook is a 10 or a 12, a specialist Full Back is needed.

    Lets move on and look forward to the remaining pool games. 0430 on Sunday morning just can't come quick enough.

  • Comment number 41.

    Most folk have pointed out the inadequacies in post 7. As a further thought I did like the reference to SA as 'raining' (sic) world champions..guess it never 'reigns'(sic) but it pours. Overall I thought this was a well written and thoughtful blog. Also I thought Wales played really well...and I have a hunch that one of the S Pacific sides could turn SA over.

  • Comment number 42.

    What aggravates me the most is this continuous reference to a team 'deserving' the victory based on their performance in the game. I have made this point once before, the only team that deserves the win is the one that finished with the W. Playing an excellent game for 60, 70 or even 75 minutes does not entitle a team to a win if they cannot get over the finish line. Wales and Argentina failed to get over that line, and if England and SA can still get over the finish line with the win after those performances, look out if they start playing well.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm desperately disappointed that Wales lost, after putting in such a great performance against some big names, and bigger bodies.

    I agree with Tinoflyer, in that it's worrying that Wales have once again taken on the role of "Heroic failures" something which we haven't manage to progress from.

    However, I really think we can build on this performance. The most important thing is that we go into games against Samoa, Fiji and Namibia and try and control the games from start to finish. We cannot go into those games, feeling sorry for ourselves or being complacent. None of our usual sluggish starts, letting teams settle in before brilliant second half come-backs. I know this is easier said than done, and especially Fiji and Samoa will be tough tests, but we now have a squad and team that can at least compete with the best, and needs to start playing like the best.

    If we do get out of the group, then I think we have a decent shot at beating any of the remaining teams, bar probably New Zealand. Teams like Australia should hold no fear for us anymore. But we need to put in the performances and get the results in the group games to give the team their belief.

    So yes it was extremely disappointing for Wales, but I really hope Gatland can get the players' heads right and use this to spur us on. But I really want to see a performance against Samoa to lay down another marker.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hands up who thinks the outcome of this group would be changed hugely if Wales or South Africa had to play again this coming wednesday. I hate the way they've organised this tournament it's designed to avoid upsets and help make sure the top two teams get through by protecting them from having anything approaching back to back games. Would really fancy Samoa to turn over Wales or South Africa if they played them on wednesday after the ferocity of this opening game.

    On topic I'm going to sound like a spoil sport but Wales didn't deserve to win. At the end of the day the team who wins always deserves to win barring a howling error. Hook penalty could have gone either way and if we still have no definitive answer now then the referees call can't be that wrong. It took a very long time but I think when South Africa worked out that this wasn't a Wales team that would just fade away and in the last 10 they managed to get some momentum and started punching little wholes in the Welsh defence. It wasn't pretty but they won and that's what makes them a champion side. It's why Wales aren't a world champion side yet they don't seem to be able to find a way to win in these close games against quality opposition. They can be brilliant if they can get clear of sides but I still think if you can stay in contention with Wales there's a chance you can beat them.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm certainly not sugar coating this impotent loss. My overriding emotion after watching that implosion was anger. I hope the players feel the same. Since we don't have another opportunity to play SA in the group stages then this anger should be directed at our three(+) games.

    Well done to SA for a calm and measured defense, and the tactical nous to use the bench to good effect.

    I'm not buying the SA injury angle because we all have injuries.

    I'm not buying the SA playing badly angle because you only play as well as your opposition allows you to play.

    They we given opportunities to show their efficiency in defense and took their two chances when they came.

    They place kicked well.

    They calmly went through the phases in the last five minutes.

    Above all they didn't panic.

    Congratulations to SA and I hope your fans enjoy the win.

    A win is a win and anything less is pointless. If we are happy in defeat then we are simply stating that we don't deserve to mentally stand shoulder to shoulder with the big three. International rugby of that intensity and quality is won and lost based on the top three inches.

    If we continue to play like that and with a greater consistently then the big three will eventually start to fall.

    Did we play well?

    Well there were some great moments, and some much less so. Some of our split decision making was shocking.

    We played ok, we certainly didn't play 'above' ourselves, we simply played as ourselves.

    And 'that kick', well, I have my own opinion but I'm an entire hemisphere away, so maybe not the best vantage point, I wasn't stood below the upright. It was adjudged to be wide, the official had a better view that me. I'm ok with that.

    Very angry and very frustrated.

  • Comment number 46.


  • Comment number 47.

    Devastated but not surprised Welsh fan here.

    Quite a few people have made the defining point that the team with the most points (generally) deserves to win the game. Couldn't agree more.

    We look so promising but need an inventive Scrum-half. Phillips is strong and drives well but he's too slow to pick a pass and seems so one-dimensional.

    RE: Trigg 99/post 38 and comment "Nobody does percived injustice like the Welsh". Load of nonsense. Fans of all sports from all countries that perceive this sort of injustice are ten-a-penny. Yes some Welsh get caught up in it now and then but that's a symptom of playing the most attractive and engrossing rugby in the UK and possibly the Northern Hemisphere only to be also-rans so often. Anyone with half a brain cell knows that English football fans are the biggest culprits of nonsensical injustice, thought they'll tell you that's an unjust statement.

    Dominic32 in post 44 made a great point in my opinion: "[Wales] can be brilliant if they get clear but if you stay in contention there's a chance you can beat them". Too true.

    Finally, it has been nice to see some great performances from the underdogs across the board, just a shame that the predictable results followed.

  • Comment number 48.

    For me and my mates the turning point was when Mike Phillips dawdled over
    the ball in a ruck on 74 minutes. The Boks smashed in and turned the ball over,
    when, with nearly 15 minutes left, it still looked as if Wales could score some points. After that we couldn't get the ball. End of.

    I agree with a lot of the comments here. I'm fed up to the back teeth of
    'losing pretty'. I'd rather we ground out a boring win like England.

  • Comment number 49.

    "And it was a match that made you wonder if they will ever have the belief that is needed to win the big ones when it matters."

    I believe it is not a question of self-belief (in the collective sense), but more to do with the fact that they 'weren't quite good enough on this day'. Francois Pienaar summed it up very well - it was the replacements off the bench that ultimately won the game for SA. It was a carbon copy of what happened in SAs last autumn tests against both Wales and England. Alberts and co. came on off the bench and added their fresh legs and considerable physical presence to the fray with devastating effect.

    Ask any of those young guns playing for Wales before the match - whether they think they are a match for the opposition and I'm sure that the answer would have been YES. After this game, they KNOW that they are. This knowledge could prove to be very significant if Wales can somehow find a way to progress into a quarter final match with the Aussies.

    Not a matter of self-belief, just a case of a stronger bench.

  • Comment number 50.

    Rubbish my friend! Far from celebrating failure we absolutely slaughter it, and also over celebrate success. Largely driven by idiotic tabloid journos I'm afraid.
    However, we are not alone in this as anyone reading the absurd Aussie media during the last Ashes will tell you.
    By the way, not entirely related to this blog, but a great couple of weekends for English/GB sport elswhere. Cricket, cycling, athletics and triathlon all to the fore and not and barely an Aussie in sight! So lets stop bigging them up until they actually win something eh!

  • Comment number 51.

    Given that England got to the final last time out(against the Boks,and but for the TMO and the disallowed try they could have won according to some) having been first thumped 36-0 by the very same Boks then surely far from being downbeat,everything is very much all to play for.No team has a divine right to qualify and Samoa,Fiji and Namibia might well something to say about the final standings,nothing we didn't know before...Will Australia beat Ireland? who knows..There'll be twists and turns again maybe but Wales go to this World Cup in better shape than previous ones(not difficult since we've made a habit of turning up in total disarray) and we needn't fear anyone..Today reinforces that, can't wait for the next game now..

  • Comment number 52.

    Dodgy free kick for an early Welsh drive in their own scrum (why would you ever do that?). Dodgy gap left by a dodgy ref dodging out of the way following a dodgy penalty for supposedly joining a maul from the side. Dodgy penalty refusal and even dodgier refusal to refer to TMO, despite the fact that even the BOKS thought it was between the posts. Eat your heart out Mr White.

  • Comment number 53.

    The time for Wales to take positives from narrow defeats has passed. The reality is they left 9 points on the park having dominated South Africa in every aspect of the game.

    Those who have followed the Welsh regions and the national team over the last few years should not be surprised at the quality of today's performance, particularly from the back row. Now that Wales have matched the physicality and intensity of the top nations, the only positive they can take from any game is a victory.

  • Comment number 54.

    Absolutely gutted - we should have won and deserved to win and I honestly thought we would win after an hour - but no point harping on about that penalty (it went over though, no doubt) because as Gatland said afterwards "we just weren't quite good enough."

    The painful fact is we failed to put SA away - at 16-10 we had them on the rack, Matfield was off injured, so too De Villiers, but when the golden opportunity to finally beat the Boks lay before us we failed to go two scores up, let in a soft try under our posts, then they did a professional number on us in the last 10 mins.

    In the end the respective strengths of the benches had a major influence on the outcome - Bismarck Du Plessis and Houggard turned it around for them while Gatland only had confidence to bring on Bradley Davies (I had expected him to bring on Halfpenny at FB and switch Hook to OH and with hindsight I think he should have - would Hook have slotted that drop goal?). So in the end maybe Welsh injuries proved more costly than SA ones - remember, as good and encouraging a team effort as it was by a very young Welsh side (7 aged under 22), five first teamers were absent (Henson, Stephen Jones, Rees, Gethin Jenkins and Ryan Jones) plus some useful backup (like Peel) which meant that unlike the Boks we couldn't turn to the bench to see us home.

    Never felt more sick about a loss than this - as others have remarked, well and truly over so-called heroic losses, gallant defeats and "what-might-have-beens" - especially at a World Cup there's no heroic defeat, just defeat.

    All that said, and while still reeling with the pain and frustration and sheer disbelief that we managed to pull a defeat from the jaws of victory, I'm now confident we'll beat Samoa next week, although not taking that at all for granted given it will be like a home fixture for them. IF we do get through the group we can at least look forward to having another crack at one of the big 3 in the shape of the Aussies, and while they're way better than SA we don't seem to have quite the same mental hang up about them so, who knows, maybe we can still be winners one day soon.

  • Comment number 55.

    Wales played with passion and flair, and i would prefer to see that kind of rugby played any day, win or lose, than the negative way england play. Also maybe coming second is not such a bad way to go in this group, it means we would have to beat Australia, but if so, then we would probaly avoid new zealand in the semi final, and more than anything to watch a team play like that makes me love the game...

  • Comment number 56.

    To the people saying Englands poor win is better than our good loss all that matters at the moment is getting out of the group which we've taken a step towards with a losing bonus point i'll take being entertained all day over success thats the reason i watch the game!

    Secondly coming second in the group which i know isnt wrapped up but we look most likely to get gives us a potentially easier route to the final!

  • Comment number 57.


    Yep that's right, better to face the Aussies than ABs. Many fancy the Aussies to lift the cup, but surely the ABs are the ultimate nightmare! The absolute best I could expect from this Welsh side is a narrow win over OZ in the quarters, scrape through against France in the semis and lose gallantly - by about 40 POINTS - to the ABs in the final. Although with my 'realistic hat' on, it is most likely a gallant loss - by about 10 - to OZ in the quarters. Gatland will then keep his job with the remit of developing other promising youngsters in time for 2015.

  • Comment number 58.

    I thought it interesting that Brussow was effectively negated by Wales.
    He only had one turn over in the game. I am not sure if it is the new rules which have changed his game ( you have to releas the tackler now) but he did not seem as effective as he was for example the 2009 Lions tour.

    Wales played well, and can build off this. The should have got Roberts involved more off first as Morne Steyne, not the best tackler in the world, was definitely not interested in tackling a rampaging Roberts.

    Good game, and it would be churlish not to gove SA some credit.

    I have to wonder how on earth they could leave Bismark DuPlessis on the bench. I think that if they need the captain to start, then he has to move to tight head and let Bismark play at they did in the Lions tour. Hougard should start as well, he gave them some electricity when he came on.

  • Comment number 59.

    Wales where clearly the better side - but that makes it all the more worse not to have done so.

    If I had to do so, I would point to certain incidents, (in no particular order, but possibly)

    1) The missed drop-goal.
    2) The missed penalty by Hook.
    3) The 50/50 scrummaing penalty (some way) ahead of SA's 1st try.
    4) The missed knock-on (some way) ahead of SA's 2nd try.
    5) The debatable missed pen of Hook in the first half.

    I suppose the imponderable is that acceptance of the Wales time to be 'plucky losers' rather than glorious winners, which is difficult to quantify.

    But bravo to Wales (as a proud Englishmen) for providing the first spine-tingling, fist-pumping rugby of RWC2011, gotta beat Samoa next week though.

  • Comment number 60.

    Wales have an excellent squad. I would not say they were unlucky. Just, as it has already been said, they lack the killer punch/instinct. SAs quality showed through.
    But for all the great performances put in by the team there is one I would question.

    Shane Williams. Has been great in attack. But is he past it? He missed two tackles that lead to tries.I know he is small but feel he could have done better on the first. As for the second, maybe a forward (Adam Jones) should have filled the gap, but Williams did walk out of the gap before even looking at where the SA's were coming from. I don't wish to be too negative, but maybe in this instance Wales could have done with a more defensive wing.

    Interesting to see welsh fans annoyed at how wales seem to consitantly play well but lose. Seems that they would swap that performance for an ugly win in a heart beat. Great to see two very differnt Dirs blogs with two very different reactions to two very different perrformances and results. But in reality neither Eng or Wales have played themselves out of the WC. On that performance I can see Wales reaching the QF. So well done!

    I don't see how Welsh fans think Australia will be an easier game? Many regard them as favourites ahead of NZ. They also have a much better WC record.

  • Comment number 61.

    Finding it quite amusing reading the people saying it might be a good thing to come second as that way would play a QF against Australia.

    So the welsh think it would be a good thing to play a team that has just beaten the ABs and also beaten SA home and away, something the welsh could not do playing their best game in years with SA playing the worst I have seen in ages.

    Makes alot of sense

  • Comment number 62.

    I want to echo a point made by #47 Gareth about Mike Phillips. I think his physicality and ability to punch holes in the defence is useful, but I find his delivery from the ruck incredibly frustrating. He picks the ball up, has a look around and takes a couple of steps before passing. This gives defences a chance to get on the front foot, especially SA's umbrella defence and makes it difficult for the fly half to get it out to the wingers. His dallying at the end of the match today, cost us the chance to mount any kind of last gasp attack. I wish he would get rid of the ball quicker and give the backs a chance to use the ball.

  • Comment number 63.

    While I applaud Gatland for not laying into Wayne Barnes, the question does need to be asked as to how many high profile errors does this referee have to make? Four years ago his failing to spot two forward passes in a French move, and his inexplicable use of the advantage rule saw the All Blacks bow out to France. He obviously needs some help and it does beg the question as to how the IRB get the standards of refereeing to improve in the professional era.

  • Comment number 64.

    I am aware that, given the time of the post, this might be treat with a certain scepticism, but the idea occured to me at the most exciting part of the SA v Wales game this morning.

    There is growing evidence that the ball for RWC2011 is difficult to kick (in terms of pens / cons) as it can 'slice' - as well as possibly be difficult to catch for the opposing backs when given the old garryowen.

    Western society is biult on Greek philosophy (bear with me here!). One example is democracy, but there is also astronomy and EUCLIDIAN GEOMETRY. This says that the sphere is the most perfect form possible, and is - in effect - from the divine. And so we have ahceived the most perfectly spherical ball ever for FIFA WC2010, and now have got the most evenly pressurised ball for (or something along those lines) RWC2011 What we now believe (or, possibly, know) is quantum mechanics and chaos theory - e.g.. the slightest variance from the norm can result from the infinitessimal change at the very start of the process, to result in major differences down the line. And so we now have soccer balls that can move both ways before beating the 'keeper, or bouncing off the intended target of a pass. Or rugby balls that do not behave how we expect to once they are kicked.

    And yet still we are suprised?

    Give me back my old black-and-white 1970's affair for the football world cup (if not a stitched 'caser' with a pigs bladder inside) and a rubgy ball that does what the players expect! Or is there too much merchandise at stake?

  • Comment number 65.

    Whilst we cant blame the ball for result, as everyone is playing with the same ball, if the ball is to be blamed for the current kicking form. Then maybe it needs to be revised as to if this is the best ball to be using.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm still shaking my head at what I witnessed earlier today... I'm absolutely gutted and deflated. I knew we could beat the undercooked Saffers but it was an all too familiar ending. The turning point was Jamie Roberts not hanging onto the ball just short of the line.

  • Comment number 67.

    Ben, went to the same stadium as you to see the England game...stadium was impressive....sadly the game was not!
    I felt sick when I got to thge stadium, could have been the excitement, the jet lag or the beer. With 20m mins to go I was nearly throwing up over the girl sitting in front of me, this was not due to any of the aforementioned but down to the dismal performance which you so accurately reported on.
    My only consolation over the week end was seeing the Bedford Blues result which WAS impressive, C'mon you blues!!

  • Comment number 68.

    to #61 cant be that hard to fathom surely the all blacks would be playing at home which generally means an advantage! also would mean we'd get the chance to knock england out and have a final with the ab's as it should be!

  • Comment number 69.

    As an Englishman I confess I was shouting for the Welsh. Exciting game (although many exciting moments came from errors - missed catches etc) and to Wales' credit for a while in 2nd half they looked to be the only winners but I felt it very ominous that SA managed to turn up a gear when it was needed, the getting over the gain line build up to their second try was awesome and after they knew how to hold on to the lead with some impressive up the jumper play and turn-over of welsh rucks (sloppy wales play there I'm affraid). One point I noticed was that the SA attack (esp for their 2nd try) came from a series of very quick ball (having the world's best scrum-half helps!). I always felt welsh attack was blunted by slow ball and have to single out Phillips in that, while strong in many other areas, has to take 2-3 side steps before passing, giving SA that little bit extra time to read the play and set defence. Danny Care does the same for England; frustrating!

  • Comment number 70.

    @ 69 Steve I agree with your coments on the scrum halfs. I am glad we don't have to worry about Care this WC. Phillips size is a big strength, but I think many would prefer he was smaller and passed better!

  • Comment number 71.

    Gutted not to have won that - but I think the people on here practically now writing Wales off are going too far.
    1 month ago, before the warm up games and beating (a poor) England side, most people would have said loss to SA, comfortable win against Namibia, tight win against Samoa and a 'knockout' against Fiji as the last game.
    So, we lost against SA - yes we should have won, but we didn't. And that is in line with most people's sensible expectations (not hopes, wishes, etc) and leaves us still with an excellent prospect of moving out of the group.
    I'm not going to blame any individual errors by players, coaches or even referees (the touch judges are looking up at the posts and surely have a better view than a camera 50m+ away, and human error in decision making is part of all sport, it just has to be dealt with). At the end of the game, Saffer experience told and they had the ability to close out a game we should have put away from them. That does not mean we're out of the tournament - and neither does it put us in the realms of plucky losers such as Namibia and Japan as I've seen some people write. It puts us in the competitive bracket that even the top teams will look at and worry about when they have to face us.
    Can we actually beat them and go all the way? Realistically probably not - as someone else has posted here, our bench/squad is not strong enough in depth. but realistically that is where Wales are at. We have some fantastic players, we can play fantastic rugby, but when it comes down to it, we are still on the fringes of the second tier of world rugby (as are all the rest of the N/Hemisphere teams! With recent performances I don't believe England/Ireland would have done as well or any better this morning) behind the Tri-Nations. The gap is closing - but its still there. Like the rest of the 6 nations (ok, like the rest of the old 5 nations!) on any given day we can beat anybody, but that's CAN beat anybody not WILL beat anybody - England got a win (with a terrible performance against a weak Argentina side), Wales lost (with a fantastic performance against the current holders), would I rather be in England's position in the group tables - of course: would I rather pay to watch England or Wales play? Wales every time. As gutting as it is to play so well and still lose, I'm a rugby fan as well as a proud Welsh fan and this morning was the best match of the RWC so far by a very long mile.
    So for those people saying Wales would be on the losing end of a 40pt score against the ABs - that maybe true, but on performances over the warm ups and the first weekend, I'd put our potential losing margin as considerably less than that of England, Ireland or France right now, and I reckon we'd be giving Graham Henry a bit more to think about than the other NH teams too!

    Go for it Wales! - Keep playing with that passion and we will go through to the next round and then it's down to what happens in the knockout rounds

  • Comment number 72.

    @ 70 Cheers Dave! I do think the speed of delivery from scrum-halfs when it matters is one of the big differences between NH & SH

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 71: 'I'm not going to blame any individual errors by players, coaches or even referees (the touch judges are looking up at the posts and surely have a better view than a camera 50m+ away, and human error in decision making is part of all sport, it just has to be dealt with). ' Very good point. The touch judges (assistant referees) were in the best position. If the posts had been higher it would have been easier, but how high can you have them!

    As I have already said you did well against a "better" side. However how much can we look into the fact that SA are the current champions? In 2007 they proved they were the best. But today, they arent the same team. Sure they are still "champions" but how much weight should that carry? Sometimes not alot. Take England in 2007 for example. Not even a shadow of the team they were in 2003.

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi Roellmann,

    Why talk about the 'gap' in hemispheres you were easily the better side today and made SA look extremely clueless at times.

    But I think the bonus point (much as I hate the idea) might be something tangible to take from the game, so chin up!

  • Comment number 75.

    should have, would have, could have...

  • Comment number 76.

    The referee should really wear glasses ! Wales won the game. They have just been robbed ! I really hope Wales will reach the quarters.

  • Comment number 77.

    @76: REALLY? Than is verging on football chants that are unintelligent and moronic. If the kick did actually go over the ref wasnt soley to blame for not giving it. He had two assistants in a better position that didn't give it either. You cant blame a win or loss on one decission really (there will be some points to the contrary). As some one pointed out earlier if the kick had gone over SA would be restarting from the half way not the 22 giving them a better attacking platform, thus giving them more of a chance for a drop goal or penalty, therefore negating the kick, or a try, so then further outscoring Wales.

    Wales were not robbed. They just came up lacking on the day. You have to play good rugby for 80 mins, not 60.

  • Comment number 78.

    "You have to play good rugby for 80 mins, not 60."

    Like South Africa proved. Or maybe not.

  • Comment number 79.


    My point was that playing 60 mins of fantastic rugby isnt enough against a side like SA. Due to Wales' lack of that killer punch teams like SA can afford to not play at their best for the full 80.

  • Comment number 80.

    Im confused Ben, were you watching a rugby game or a boxing match or as I suspect, can you tell the difference?

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 79 Daver ichallen

    Do you even know what your talking about?

  • Comment number 82.

    I was at the game and watched a replay shortly afterwards. This was one of the best Wales performances I have seen and an excellent game of rugby. What a great game this is when both teams set out to win and play rugby. The local press are full of praise for Wales and SA for providing such a spectacle and unanimously agree that Wales deserved a win. Wales' set pieces worked very well and their tactics seemed suited to countering SA. Although I and every other Welshman in the stadium was crushingly disappointed I think before the match we would have accepted a one point loss to the world champions at full strength, and certainly after the very poor start. But the team gave us hope; the boys made us proud. On this performance Wales should progress to the knockout stages and are certainly capable of beating any one in this competition. Well done Wales.

    PS - I'd rather be a Welsh supporter than support a team that disrespects its hosts and plays a type of rugby that can only be attractive to its own supporters.

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 81: Im guessing you havent read my comments and are just going on the fact that I am german. Typical of and English football fan to have a pop at the german. 4 - 1 is all I have to say!

    People are saying Wales deserved to win, but did SA deserve to win? Is it possible that two teams both play so well they both deserve a win?

    @82: Glad the local press are giving credit where credit is due to the two teams. I love rugby for games like this where up until the final kick it could go either way!
    However please please please explain how England (I assume you mean England) disrespected the hosts? (I'll point out now that Wales' change strip is also black)
    Also want to correct you that I doubt there is one England supporter who found our performance attractive. Anything but. But we won. How is that not at least one positive to be taken away from the game.As surely that is the point of a game. To win.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 83

    Are you actually German then? because you seem to defend England a lot in your posts! pretty sure that if your Englush your just insul,ting yourself with the 4-1 remark!

    and your question about being possible for both teams to play so well they both deserve to win? i would say no because the aim of the game is to score the most points and if they deserved to equally score the most points that would make the game a draw. Just my opinion! ;)

  • Comment number 85.

    @84: I am German, and proud. However our rugby team suck. I have spent some time in England so therefore follow them, and enjoy following them. I am just as passionate about them as my English friends. And in all honesty I don't care for football. It bores me. But that's just me.

    Quick English lesson for you from someone with English as their second language:

    your = your you're = you are

    I agree with your (not you're) last comment the team who deserve to win are the team that score the most points. The score is the only stat that matters. Though the others can be helpful/interesting.

    A little analogy for this whole win ugly lose beautiful debate. I was watching an Indiana Jones film, and in the film Jones comes up against this guy with a sword. He clearly has loads of skill and waves it around with presicion flair that Jones clearly lacks. However Jones plays to his strengths and pulls put his pistol and shoots him. No flair what so ever. But Jones won the fight. I know who I would rather be.

  • Comment number 86.

    Not totally related but Lawes being cited? Bit harsh. Contact was clearly not intended. Thought citings were for when some one has meant to cause injury to someone!

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 85

    apologies for the misuse of english in my last post, it was just a slip of the keyboard when typing!

    I however do not believe that you are German! i think you are a liar! I believe you're (is that right?!) an Englishman pretending! There are no germans in the world that like engliand enough to support any of our teams!

    I agree with your little analogy on Indiana Jones though. At the end of the day a win is better than a loss, no matter how you come about it

  • Comment number 88.

    You are right, all Germans hate Engliand. But I know quite alot of Germans, myself included, who are quite fond of England.

    I am glad you agree with my analogy. Wasn't sure how that would go down!

  • Comment number 89.

    @ 88 i think you are a Ben Dir fan!!

  • Comment number 90.

    Im not a fan of benders. Please explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    I didn't say you were a fan of benders....i said of Ben Dir's!!

  • Comment number 92.

    Sorry misread. My bad. Though you are correct. His blog has caused a very good debate. So it has served its purpose. What is your point though?

  • Comment number 93.

    No point, just an observation......

    So...Lawes has been cited? You Germans must be loving that!

  • Comment number 94.

    I'm not. England need him. Stupid citing. Clearly not intended!

  • Comment number 95.

    Yeah but world cup citings are generally based on a number of games aren't they?

    so even if he does get banned it shouldn't be for too long

  • Comment number 96.

    What if he gets banned for 6 games? That would deff be too long!

  • Comment number 97.

    Back to the subject in hand - Wales were passionate, played with pace and tackled like demons, but came up short. Perhaps the most worrying part for them is that South Africa played about 15 minutes of rugby - maximum - in that game and it was enough to win. Sadly, Wales had plenty of chances, but did not have the cutting edge to get through the Boks.
    Great performance, but uphill now for them for sure.

  • Comment number 98.

    @ 97

    "uphill now for them for sure."

    really?? after one loss its an uphill battle to get out of the group? surely not if they continue to play as they did against the boks?!

  • Comment number 99.

    @97: I have to agree with liverpaul85 on this one. Yesterdays game cannot have been a must win game for Wales. Yes they could have and should have won, but a loss does not throw their QF bid into disarray. IF they keep up the moment and deal with the defeat properly, they should beat Fiji and Samoa (Namibia too). I am not saying it will be easy, anthing but. But your comment almost implies had they beat SA it would be plain sailing. Beating SA would have made it easier. Wales probably expected Fiji and Samoa to be their must win games.

  • Comment number 100.

    Was at the game and it was awesome. Was a near sellout, which was a good effort for 8:30 on a Sunday night. Great atmosphere, and most kiwis got right in behind Wales as the game went on. At times the chants of Wales! Wales! was as loud I've heard in Cardiff.

    However, wasn't to be sadly. This RWC has shown the gap closing and none of the 'small' teams have been flogged yet (look out on Friday night though, Japan!) which is great. Just needs one of them to last the final 10mins and get the upset though.

    Wales are not a small team though, and they should have won by 20 points. The keys to the loss were Preistland's missed droppie, and then Hook's last penalty. But they had more than enough chances to finish the game off well before then.
    Biggest problem is halfback. Phillips is just far too slow and indecisive. Numerous times Wales had an overlap had there been quick ball, only for Phillips to look both ways, check his watch, have a cup of tea, and discuss the weather before he passed.

    Rugby brings NZ and Wales together though, and now we have a mutual loathing of Wayne Barnes!


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