Gatland pinpoints Wales accuracy after agonising South Africa loss
22 June 2014 12:49pm
By Pippa Field
Warren Gatland admits his Wales players need to maintain their accuracy at key moments after seeing them suffer an agonising one-point defeat to South Africa - a loss the head coach described as the worst of his career.
Wales went into the final game of their two-Test tour in Nelspruit on Saturday looking for an improvement in performances after their 38-16 loss to the Springboks last week.
And Gatland certainly got it as his side raced into a 17-0 lead thanks to tries from Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert plus seven points from Dan Biggar.
South Africa closed the gap to three at the break but Wales came again through Ken Owens to leave the team - third in this year's RBS 6 Nations - within 140 seconds of a famous victory.
But with South Africa awarded a penalty try following Liam Williams' shoulder charge into Cornal Hendricks, Morne Steyn was then on hand to convert for a 31-30 victory.
It denied Wales their first ever victory over the Springboks in South Africa although their performance drew praise from South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer.
Gatland himself was also buoyed by the improvements made by the team although the manner of the loss was still hard to take.
"It's probably the toughest defeat I've experienced in my whole coaching career," Gatland said. "We're absolutely gutted and we didn't really deserve that final result.
"In the last ten minutes they were throwing everything at us and we let Hendricks go through and the penalty try was unfortunate because we got narrow and allowed the winger to get outside us.
"They're critical moments when you have to be 100 per cent accurate and in one or two moments we weren't quite good enough.
"We said we were poor in the first half last week and got caught. Our line speed improved a lot. There was a big improvement on last week.
"We put South African under a lot of pressure and scored some good tries. I'm proud of the effort and performance but gutted about the result."
Elsewhere over the weekend, England were unable to finish their tour of New Zealand on a high as the All Blacks completed a 3-0 series win thanks to a 36-13 victory.
Julian Savea and Aaron Smith both touched down twice each before half time and while the Red Rose improved after the break - winger Marland Yarde crossing the whitewash - Savea had the final word when he completed
Scotland recorded their third successive victory under new head coach Vern Cotter after Duncan Weir's later penalty saw off Argentina 21-19.
While France fell to a 39-13 loss in Australia and Italy narrowly lost out 26-23 to Japan.
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.