Match reaction: Wales 31-34 South Africa
Mixed emotions for Gatland
June 5, 2010
Warren Gatland said his team missed a great opportunity © Getty Images
Wales head coach Warren Gatland confessed to being a frustrated man after seeing his side edged out 34-31 by South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.
"We are frustrated," said Gatland. "If that was a couple of years ago we would have said what a good performance it was. But we have come on from there.
"In the opening 25 minutes we were clinical, accurate and 16-3 up, and then we caught some sort of disease, I don't know what it is. We got ourselves in a bit of trouble, got behind and then showed great character at the end. But we are frustrated at a missed opportunity." Despite another defeat against Tri Nations opposition, Gatland believes his side are very close to realising their potential before the daunting prospect of two upcoming Tests in New Zealand later this month.
"We played the world champions today. Guys who played in the Super 14 final last week, and the Stormers and the Bulls are two of the best teams in the world. The thing from today is you feel like you are not too far away and you are not turning up thinking we hope to have a good day and they have a bad day and we can cause an upset.
"We know if we are more clinical we are capable of beating anyone. Today was an opportunity we didn't take. As a team you grow and mature and learn to handle situations and sometimes it's about a bit of luck getting that win can transform a side's confidence and belief.
"We just went through a poor period and of course the other side will come back into the game. We lost three line-outs in a row, we had a couple of turnovers at the breakdown and at 16-3 we gave away a stupid penalty through Jonathan Thomas that gave them a bit of momentum.
"We also missed a couple of tackles and it was disappointing. But we showed some great character to give ourselves an opportunity of winning it."
Wales fly-half Stephen Jones says that his team's inability to keep it tight when it mattered cost Wales victory at the Millennium Stadium.
"It was certainly spirited but we were inaccurate at times and that's what cost us," said Jones afterwards. "Playing the best sides you have to be accurate and efficient and we weren't today, which is frustrating. We have to give them credit.
"When they had the ball, they kept it well and made us work hard in defence but from our perspective, we just need to tighten up and make sure we are efficient in the set plays and recycle the ball a lot more efficiently. That is what cost us today. It is the first time we have played with each other for a while and there are certainly aspects of our game to work on. We look forward to the tour to New Zealand now."
Wales captain Ryan Jones blamed too many errors for his team's defeat at the hands of South Africa.
"We lacked composure. There are going to be periods of the game where you are in the ascendancy and times where you have to whether the storm when you are not. Unfortunately there were too many errors and they capitalised on that and it cost us in the end.
"I thought we were physical and when we did play well, we played very well. I think we have to tighten up on those errors, tidy up the set piece a little and we can be competitive and do well down under.
South Africa captain John Smit was left unimpressed by his side's display, describing their performance as "ordinary".
"We didn't really play off our line-outs, we couldn't play off scrums and I thought we were pretty ordinary. The win is the only thing we can take home, but that's the important thing. Your first game up is never perfect. We haven't been together as a squad, it's always a bit scratchy but we got what we wanted."
Coach Peter de Villiers, however, was full of praise for new caps De Jongh, Gio Aplon and Francois Louw.
"They earned their stripes in the Super 14 and it was a just reward for them," said the Springbok boss. And it's good for us to be able to keep this team moving forward, it puts us in a good position."