Missed opportunity for Gatland
November 8, 2008
Flyhalf Ruan Pienaar goes close for South Africa at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff © Getty Images
Warren Gatland admitted Wales missed an opportunity to secure a famous win against world champions South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.
Wales, who went down 20-15, still have just one victory against the Springboks to their name, but the Wales coach believed his side should have won given their domination in territory and possession.
In the end Wales went down two tries to nil. "It was a lost opportunity, absolutely,'' complained Gatland. "We are more than disappointed. It was real Test match - an arm wrestle. We had some chances there and I'm pretty unhappy. I have said to the boys that they should be really disappointed because we were the best team out there. We played most of the rugby. We had our chances.
"The next step in the development of this team is to nail those opportunities. The unfortunate thing is that you have to take the pain and learn from your mistakes.
"I thought we were in the game, we competed well physically, we had 60% of possession and we had more territory. They also had a soft try from an intercept and a couple of soft three-pointers as well. I'd like to think from 12 months ago there has been a nice progression from this team. We want to compete against the best teams in the world. I thought we did that and had a chance to win it.''
Gatland highlighted a poor last few minutes from Wales which could have been the difference between winning and losing. "There were two line-out turnovers, a scrum turnover and Lee Byrne dropped the ball. Big teams in these games they nail those moments. That's the next progression for us. To say I was disappointed was an understatement.''
But Gatland said he was happy with the two new caps Andy Powell and Leigh Halfpenny. "They did well. It would have been nice if they had a 'W' next to that. I thought they gave a real account of themselves. Andy Powell gave us some footwork, some physicality and he's got to be proud of that performance.''
Wales captain Ryan Jones looked ahead to matches against Australia and New Zealand this month and said: "We need to win one of these games. It's about composure during the big moments. "It's a pretty disappointed changing room. We made too many mistakes for a start against the best team in the world. I thought the second half was better but there wasn't enough time to get what we thought we deserved. We knew we were capable of more out there but we will take it on the chin and it's an experience we will draw on.''
On the lost line-outs at the end, forwards coach Robin McBryde said: "I thought we were very accurate in the line-out in the first half, but when it mattered in the end, we didn't function. It's disappointing to finish on that. In big matches you have to make big calls and keep your composure.''
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