South Africa 31 Wales 30: Warren Gatland backs Springboks try award

South Africa 31 Wales 30: Warren Gatland feels referee Steve Walsh was right to award a late try in second Test

By Gareth Llewellyn

Warren Gatland believes his compatriot Steve Walsh was right award South Africa a 79th-minute penalty try in his side’s 31-30 defeat in Nelspruit.

Controversial New Zealander Walsh, now operating as a referee under the auspices of the Australian Rugby Union, penalised Liam Williams for an illegal tackle on Cornal Hendricks with the tryline beckoning, but the Wales head coach has no issue with the decision.

He [Liam] is devastated about it and he has apologised to the boys in the changing room

Warren Gatland

“There has been a lot of debate about it and I have no problem with that decision,” said Gatland.

“Some people have said there is no guarantee he would have scored the try and could it have been a penalty or a yellow card, or something like that. But those are different things.

“In the end, I would have rather Hendricks had scored the try and have them to kick the conversion from the touchline.

“We have made an error there defensively, which is disappointing. Hendricks got outside George North and unfortunately Liam has come and led with his shoulder so, from that point of view, I don’t have an issue with the decision.”

Wales stormed into a 17-0 lead, but indiscipline saw Luke Charteris and Dan Biggar sin-binned in the closing stages of the first half to allow South Africa to return 14 points, including another penalty try courtesy of Walsh.

A Ken Owens try and assured goal-kicking from Biggar allowed Wales to build a 13-point lead in the second half but, as has happened so often when they have held the lead against the top three nations, their defence crumbled to allow the Springboks back in.

Gatland also revealed that Scarlets full-back Williams, who was seen close to tears as Springboks outside-half Morné Steyn lined up the conversion in front of the posts, had apologised to his colleagues in the dressing room for his critical error the heart-breaking defeat.

“He is devastated about it and he has apologised to the boys in the changing room,” he added. “For him as an individual, he has got to learn from that.

“What you have got to keep reminding players is that at certain levels they can get away with things, if there is a lesser referee and the officials and TMO are not as good, but at this higher level, you just do not get away with anything and you have got to be squeaky clean.

“That’s what this was about for us. There were a few indiscretions that were costly for us at the end of the day.

“I think he will learn from that experience and hopefully he doesn’t do it again.”

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