Player Ratings: So close
OPINION: Wales will be kicking themselves after that first Test against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.
After going into the break 18-3 ahead, Wales crumbled under the pressure to let a golden opportunity slip.
The Boks won the match 32-29 thanks to a late Damian Willemse penalty
Check out the player ratings below:
15 Liam Williams
He sent the final pass to Louis Rees-Zammit to run away for the game’s first try. He provided great cover at the back when his team was under pressure, but the Welsh fans will want him to be more involved in the attacking side of things.
14 Louis Rees-Zammit
He is one of the world’s best finishers out wide and he showed at Loftus. He scored two great tries – in his second he showed great skill to kick a loose ball ahead before gathering and scoring. He was also great under the high ball. However, he was one of those Welsh players who got a yellow card towards the end of the game.
13 George North
He was involved in Louis Rees-Zammit’s first try, but he hardly had opportunities to show his skills in the midfield. His defence was solid when he had Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am running at him.
12 Nick Tompkins
He was constantly looking for work around the park. Although he missed a few tackles, he was solid with his defensive game in the backline. He did make some metres with a few good runs.
11 Josh Adams
He didn’t get as much ball as Louis Rees-Zammit and when he did he hardly made any metres. He put in a few tackles on defence. Wayne Pivac will want more from him in the second Test.
10 Dan Biggar (captain)
He outplayed his opposite number Elton Jantjies. He showed great vision on attack in the build-up to Louis Rees-Zammit’s first try and he produced a successful drop goal in the ninth minute out of nothing. The captain was also not afraid to stand his ground when a few scuffles broke out. He will be kicking himself with that missed conversion at the end.
9 Kieran Hardy
He kept the Boks on their toes around the rucks and he showed some great upper-body strength when he took the ball into contact. His kicking game in the first half also put the Boks under pressure on numerous occasions. He was one of Wales’ better players on the field.
8 Taulupe Faletau
He gave away a couple of penalties but he more than made up for it with his performance in open play. His defensive game was rock solid and he was the go-to man to get Wales over the gain line. He made a lot of running metres in that game and against the Boks that is an achievement. More often than not it took more than one Springbok to bring him down and he will be asked to do the same in the second Test in Bloemfontein.
7 Tommy Reffell
It was a great debut for the 23-year-old. He showed his quality on the ground by winning a great breakdown penalty when the Boks were applying pressure late in the first half. He made a huge number of successful tackles and he was at the heart of Wales’ physical battle against the Boks.
6 Dan Lydiate
He had a quiet game by his standards. However, he didn’t take a step back on defence against a few Bok heavyweights and he made sure that the hosts had to work hard at the breakdowns.
5 Adam Beard
He was a solid option at line-outs time for hooker Ryan Elias, but his performance in open play was not the best. He hardly touched the ball on attack, but he produced some big tackles when the Boks were running at him.
4 Will Rowlands
He was a colossus for Wales up front. He stole the ball from the Boks’ line-out, which eventually led to Louis Rees-Zammit’s first try. The big lock also showed some great pace to rack up some impressive running metres. There will be some big bruises on a few Bok players after his big tackles.
3 Dillon Lewis
He virtually had to play the whole game after Tomas Francis got a head knock moments after entering the field. He gave away a scrum penalty against Ox Nche in the 13th minute, but he was strong in the set-piece for most of the game. He should be applauded for his fitness levels at altitude.
2 Ryan Elias
He was one of his team’s best defenders. His tackles were aggressive and it helped his team in the physical battle. Apart from one or two hiccups, his line-out throwing was good as well. He didn’t have many opportunities with ball in hand in open play.
1 Gareth Thomas
He held his own in the scrums against the powerful Frans Malherbe. He was also asked to do some important ball-carrying around the rucks and he wasn’t too bad at it. His defensive performance was satisfactory.
16 Dewi Lake (On for Ryan Elias, 51st minute)
He brought some energy up front and his line-out throwing was excellent. Howe produced some great power to score a try in the 77th minute.
17 Rhys Carre (On for Gareth Thomas, 53rd minute)
It’s a performance that he would want to forget. Apart from a few tackles, he hardly made an impact and he let his team down with a yellow card late in the game.
18 Tomas Francis (on for Dillon Lewis, 50th minute)
He barely lasted a minute before he had to be taken off the field after a knock to the head. Not enough time to be rated.
19 Alun Wyn Jones (On for Adam Beard 51st minute)
His contributions were minimal and he spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin. It will be interesting to see how Wayne Pivac uses him in the next two Tests.
20 Josh Navidi (On for Dan Lydiate, 63rd minute)
Like Dan Lydiate, he hardly made an impact in open play. Most of his contributions were on defence,
21 Tomos Williams (On for Kieran Hardy, 55th minute)
He just couldn’t match Kieran Hardy’s enterprising play. His service to his backline was great, but the Welsh needed a little more from him in the second half.
22 Gareth Anscombe
23 Owen Watkin (On for Josh Adams, 63rd minute)
Another player who didn’t get a lot of ball out wide. But that was because the Boks were applying most of the pressure in that final quarter. He did put in some good tackles.