Warren Gatland is adamant that James Hook’s first-half penalty was good and says the referee should have checked with the TMO.
In a game of small margins, this kick could have made the difference. In the context of the game, it would have ensured that Wales closed the gap to 7-6 and perhaps trailed the Boks by just a point at half-time.
Gatland believes Hook’s second penalty attempt should have been rewarded with the three points, as did Hook himself. The Wales head coach said it was discussed in the change room at half-time, and that Bok fullback Frans Steyn had told the Welsh, ‘Yes, I thought it was over too’.
While Gatland didn’t go so far as to say this incident cost Wales the game, he expressed his disappointment by saying the TMO needs to be utilised when the on-field officials aren’t 100% certain.
‘You’ve got the technology there, so why don’t you use it,’ said Gatland. ‘It was potentially costly, but then we missed a penalty and a drop attempt too. That’s part of sport, it’s not all predictable.’
One point separated the sides at full-time, but Gatland refused to suggest that the Welsh were the better side on the day, or that they were unlucky to lose. According to the New Zealand-born coach, the Boks were the more clinical side on the day.
‘I couldn’t be more proud of the effort. For us to play against a team like South Africa and win 60% of territory and possession shows that we have made a great improvement.
‘It’s all about finishing on top of the scoreboard, but there were massive positives. I think that we have to take that into the next game. Teams like New Zealand or South Africa are so good because even when they lose they’re capable of fronting the next week. We will have to do that against Samoa.’
Gatland was especially impressed with Wales captain and openside flanker Sam Warburton. The 22-year-old was named Man of the Match.
‘If you were going to pick a British & Irish Lions No 7, he’d be right there. He had a very good battle with a world class opensider in Heinrich Brussow, and I believe he will get even better.’
Bok captain John Smit also said that Warburton did a fine job for Wales at the Cake Tin.
‘He was a pain to play against,’ said Smit. ‘He was very difficult to take care of at the breakdown.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in Wellington