South Africa 38-16 Wales, 1st Test
Gatland admits Springbok power won the day
June 15, 2014
South Africa's Francois Louw goes flying in on Wales' Matthew Morgan © Getty Images
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has admitted his players were simply overpowered by South Africa as they were beaten 38-16 in Durban.
Welsh hopes of a first win over the Springboks on South African soil were all but over by the 21st minute and the third South African try, their second score while Wales centre Jamie Roberts was in the sin-bin for taking out Willie le Roux in the air.
South Africa wing Bryan Habana helped himself to a brace of tries, with Duane Vermeulen, Le Roux and debutant Cornal Hendricks also crossing the whitewash. Morne Steyn added 13 points with the boot as Wales were blown away by the rampant Springboks.
"All credit to South Africa," Gatland said. "I thought they physically dominated us in the first half and won the collisions. We just struggled a little with the pace and intensity.
"It probably didn't help having Jamie Roberts in the bin - we conceded 14 points while he was off - but I think the game had gone away from us at half time.
"We said at the break that we needed to be much more aggressive off the line defensively and I think it was a much better performance in the second half. Hopefully it will be good for us for next week."
But Gatland did rue his side's failure to score a try with less than a minute on the clock. Wales had cut South Africa apart only for the chance to disappear after Liam Williams fired the final pass behind wing Alex Cuthbert.
"We started really well and had a couple of good opportunities so to miss that chance was very disappointing. But that's rugby.
"South Africa scrambled well and they had big runners off their scrum-half and they dominated the collisions and made it tough for us to get on the front foot. It is something we need to work really hard on this week."
Gatland also paid tribute to the performance of Springbok fullback Le Roux, who provided a painful reminder of what Wales are missing in their injured No.15 Leigh Halfpenny.
"I thought we were very poor defending on the short side, Le Roux was an absolute pest in that respect," Gatland said. "He was outstanding and caused us a lot of trouble with chips over the top we did not handle. On that performance you would have to say he is one of the best full-backs in the world. He was absolutely superb."
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