YOKOHAMA – Losing Wales coach Warren Gatland said his team can leave Japan with heads held high after trying everything they could to break the South African stranglehold during Sunday's Rugby World Cup semi-final.
In a game full of kick and chase, South Africa always seemed to be on top, though they needed a Handre Pollard penalty four minutes from time to finally kill off Wales's spirited challenge and edge the game 19-16.
"There wasn't a lot of flowing rugby played, we tried to move the ball a bit in the first half but then it became an arm wrestle," Gatland said.
"We stayed in there and, with 76 minutes on the clock, it was 16-all. We had a bit of momentum and were significantly in their half but then there was a big turnover and they got the penalty from a lineout drive."
After a first half without a single offload from either side, Gatland tried to inject some energy into his side with early changes to his halfbacks as he threw on Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell.