In Depth

South Africa break Welsh hearts to reach the Rugby World Cup final - reactions and highlights

Springboks narrowly defeat Wales 19-16 to set up final clash against England

RWC semi-final: Wales 16 South Africa 19

Welsh rugby fans have had their hearts broken after their team lost in the Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa. 

Warren Gatland’s Wales side went into Sunday’s match hoping to set up a final clash against England, but the Springboks narrowly edged the last-four tie 19-16. 

Josh Adams’s 65th-minute try, converted by Leigh Halfpenny, had brought Wales level at 16-16. However, Handre Pollard’s 76th-minute penalty proved the difference in Yokohama.

Damian de Allende scored South Africa’s only try while Pollard kicked one conversion and four penalties. Dan Biggar kicked three penalties for Wales.

South Africa will now play England in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday 2 November (9am, live in ITV).

Wales will play New Zealand in the bronze medal match in Tokyo on Friday 1 November (9am, live on ITV). 

Coach and player reactions

Rassie Erasmus, South Africa head coach

“We have so much respect for Wales and the coach [Warren Gatland]. We thought they might pull it through late on but we had a bit of luck, but they are a class team. We are only half way there, we would love to win but we will play a class England outfit. You never know. The way our group stands together, no one cares who we substitute, we have a team spirit that will make the nation proud.”

Handre Pollard, Springboks fly-half

“Real tough one, they are a quality side who have improved over the past couple of years. Our forwards did a great job. It’s an unbelievable weapon to have, the opposition knows about it but there’s not much they can do about it. We’ve got some continuity which is massive. We’re very happy to be in the final, let’s go. It’s going to be classic World Cup final rugby.”

Damian de Allende, South Africa try-scorer

“Very exciting times, glad to be a part of it. Wales gave it everything but luckily it was us. We always want to front up and be physical, it’s the way most teams dominate games these days. If you can win the small battles sometimes it’s psychological. They kept coming for us and luckily we pulled it off in the end.”

Wales player Aaron Shingler reacts after the semi-final defeat against South Africa

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Warren Gatland, Wales head coach

“A tough physical match, congratulations to South Africa they defended well but I am proud of the boys. It was a very tough encounter, and well done to South Africa. I am proud of them, we punched massively above our weight in terms of playing numbers in Wales, we gave 100% in a close contest. But South Africa deserved to win.

“We probably gave away too many penalties in our own half and that cost us dearly. We never gave up and were in the arm wrestle. At 16-16 it was pretty close and you’re dreaming of the three points going our way.”

Alun Wyn Jones, Wales captain

“We showed it today, stayed in the arm wrestle and stayed in it at 16-16 but we piggybacked penalties and South Africa took advantage and congratulations to them. Today we fell short, it wasn’t our day and I am still proud to pull this jersey on and represent all the Welsh in the stadium.”

Jake Ball, Wales second row

“We’re just gutted as a team, a hell of a lot of hard work has gone in over the last five months but we’ve got to try and use that as motivation for the game next week. The boys put in a hell of an effort. If we have to look back at it, just disappointment to come so close. Sometimes we didn’t have the swing of things there in that last 15 minutes but it’s hard to put it all in words at the moment. A lot of the boys are down.”

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