Rugby World Cup 2019: Media reacts to South Africa's win over Wales

South Africa will face England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, after beating Wales 19-16 in a thrilling semi-final in Yokohama.

England coach Eddie Jones had hoped the match would go to extra time, and it nearly did, but a 76th-minute penalty goal to Handre Pollard changed the script, and Warren Gatland was denied a dream finish to his largely successful tenure in charge of Wales.

This year's final is a repeat of the 2007 edition, which South Africa won 15-6. 

Simon Thomas - Wales Online 


"The World Cup dream is over. Wales have lost 19-16 to South Africa in the semi-final in Yokohama.

"They gave it their all, but they just came up short.

"When it counted the Boks came strong again in the final exchanges, with their forward-heavy replacements making a mighty impact as they rolled the big men off the bench to deliver even more oomph.

"It was almost the perfect script...almost.So near, yet so far and so, so painful."

Paul Rees - The Guardian


"A match that contained more kicks out of hand than it did minutes was appropriately decided by the boot when Handré Pollard's late penalty took South Africa to their third final and a repeat of 2007 when they defeated England in Paris in a match that had no more oxygen than the latest of Wales's World Cup hard-luck stories.

"Wales lost in the 2011 to France by a point after missing a late kick, were thwarted by a late South Africa try in the quarter-final four years ago and here looked to have taken the initiative after levelling the scores with a smart try from a scrum 16 minutes from time. 

Rugby World Cup 2019: Media reacts to South Africa's win over Wales

"However injuries ultimately caught up with them in an edgy encounter which had far more spills than thrills, and they tellingly lacked the Springboks' resources on the bench.

"England coach Eddie Jones was among the spectators and he will have had a feeling of deja vu as he watched South Africa adopt a rigid gameplan from the start based on taking no risks in their own half but kicking the ball to Wales and daring them to break down a defence that was as aggressive as it was unyielding.

"It was how South Africa won the World Cup 12 years ago when Jones was on their management team as a consultant. He said before the start of that tournament that the winners would have the best defence and he knows what to expect in Saturday's final. 

"It meant there was no dream ending for the Wales head coach Warren Gatland after 12 years in charge. He spoke two days before the match of how he would like one more crack at the All Blacks, and he will get his wish, even if Friday's bronze playoff was not what he had in mind. Under him, 

"Wales have developed into a hard-nosed team that gives everything but here it was not quite enough."

Gavin Rich - SuperSport South Africa


"A pressure Handre Pollard penalty kick five minutes from time clinched the Springboks a nail-biting 19-16 semi-final win over Wales to send them into a World Cup final for the first time in 12 years.

"Siya Kolisi's team will play England here next Saturday in a repeat of the 2007 final , and the good omen, of course, is that the Boks won that one under the captaincy of John Smit and the coaching of Jake White. "Indeed, the Boks have yet to lose a final, having won their only other appearance in a deciding game in 1995.

"They will go into the game feeling that, just as the Welsh had the previous week in their quarter-final against France, they survived a big test of nerve. It was anyone's game as it went into the last 10 minutes and Wales were in the South African half for three or four minutes, with the Boks defending.

"But a turn-over penalty affected by replacement flank Francois Louw changed the momentum. The Boks were able to transfer playback into the Welsh territory, and then came the penalty. It was from a wide-angle, in other words a difficult kick. Full marks to Pollard for succeeding with it, to regain the lead for his team.

South Africa celebrate their win over Wales.
South Africa celebrate their win over Wales. Photo credit: Reuters

"You could almost feel the tension and nervousness in the two sides as they played a game of chess with each other across the first half, neither of them really willing to chance their arm.

"When they did attack, it was when they were deep in their opposition half. And even then, two excellent defensive systems were easily the match for any of the opposing team's intentions."

Chris Foy - Daily Mail


"South Africa denied Warren Gatland a fairytale end to his regime as Wales head coach by snatching victory in a World Cup semi-final which was heading towards extra-time.

"Wales were under siege and clinging on in the first half at Yokohama, but fought gallantly to stay in contention against Rassie Erasmus's massive Springbok side. After the break, they mounted a spirited comeback and drew level 15 minutes from the end, with another try by the prolific Josh Adams, superbly converted by Rhys Patchell.

"But the Welsh dream was cruelly shattered with four minutes remaining when they conceded another penalty, and Handre Pollard landed the kick which ultimately settled this close encounter. 

"This result is especially disappointing for Gatland as it means that his Welsh team have lost two World Cup semi-finals by a combined total of just four points. They were edged out by France in 2011 and now by the Boks here in Japan. 

"They had been savagely hampered by injury setbacks and did not have the depth of playing resources to quite match these formidable opponents – the same nation who dispatched them from the 2015 tournament.

"However, Gatland will leave his post in a week's time having achieved many notable feats on behalf of Wales. He was cheered loudly when he appeared on the stadium screens for his post-match interview, and that level of affection for his work is entirely justified. On his watch, Wales became a respected force again. He will be missed."

Jack de Menezes - The Independent


"Twenty four hours after Yokohama served up one of the all-time great knockout matches, South Africa and Wales produced something more commonly seen in a gruelling kick-sodden slow-burner. 

"In the end, it would come down to who could keep their nerve, and after 80 pain-staking minutes, it was Handre Pollard and the Springboks who emerged triumphant.

"South Africa will return here next Saturday to face England in a repeat of the 2007 World Cup final, while for Wales the journey is agonisingly not over yet. They will face a New Zealand team that will be determined to make up for the failings of their own semi-final defeat, and a long night could be in store for Warren Gatland's farewell in Friday's third-place playoff.

"As with 2011, Wales fell agonisingly short of a first World Cup final appearance, and it is scarcely believable that in two semi-final appearances in eight years they have lost by a combined four points. But the drama of this finish doesn't quite tell the full story of the game.

"A kick for every minute. That's what the two teams managed to cough up in arguably the most dire 40 minutes of the entire World Cup."

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