Wales v South Africa media reaction as Gatland's 'raw' side make Boks graft and duo picked out

-Credit: (Image: (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images))
-Credit: (Image: (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images))

Despite the 41-13 score line, Warren Gatland will have a lot of positives to take from a spirited performance against South Africa.

Mason Grady had a solid game at inside centre, shifting from his usual wing position he plays in for Cardiff Rugby. Taine Plumtree proved he's Test quality with a strong innings on the blind.

For Welsh rugby fans, the game was marred by numerous head-scratching refereeing decisions that could have swung the momentum for Gatland's team.

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A clear forward pass from Jesse Kriel to Makazole Mapimpi was cleared as fine, an airborne Aphelele Fassi raised his boot towards Plumtree's head and it remained a yellow, while Bongi Mbonambi was very lucky to remain on the field after smashing his head into Gareth Thomas.

In the absence of Wales' first-choice locks, Matthew Screech and Ben Carter put in a shift in the boiler house and can be proud of their performance. There will be plenty for Gatland to think about before he cuts the squad down to 34 before the squad flies out to Australia. Here is what the national media thought of events.

The Guardian

Guardian writer Daniel Gallan praised Wales for fronting up to the Springboks despite the score line.

"Wales lost this match by a distance," he wrote. "Conceding five tries and scoring just one. But their green players can be proud of their performance against a team that included 15 members of the squad that triumphed in France last year.

"The double world champions were disjointed for large parts of the contest, and were curtailed by a disappointing debut by Jordan Hendrikse at fly-half, but their task was made difficult by the inexperienced Welsh who challenged at the lineout, battled contestable kicks and fronted up at the point of contact."

The Telegraph

The Telegraph writer Ben Coles highlighted "a number of curious refereeing calls" in a spirited Wales performance.

"South Africa won comfortably in the end," he wrote. "But a raw Wales side made the back-to-back world champions graft for their eventual healthy cushion on the scoreboard, in a game which was littered with interesting refereeing decisions around the scrum and featured a potentially forward pass for one of the Springboks’ five tries.

"It was some effort in the first half by Wales, unfancied and written off as 12/1 outsiders, with their resources decimated largely due to player-release issues but also injuries to leave them with a XV which had 302 caps to South Africa’s 637.

"With a Makazole Mapimpi try right after the break South Africa were back in control, but should it have stood? Replays can admittedly play tricks on you, and a TMO check ruled the pass from Kriel was legitimate. Even so, it didn’t look right."

The Times

The Times writer Stephen Jones said there were silver linings to Wales' defeat despite the fact they were "horrendously weakened". He name-checked the likes of Plumtree and Grady as stand-out performers.

"In the end, and after a heroic performance by a Wales squad containing players who are not even regulars in their regional teams, Wales were slightly unfortunate not to be even closer and their gritty resistance lasted until the final whistle," he wrote.

"Wales also had good news. Liam Williams is back in camp after signing for a club outside Wales; Ellis Bevan, largely unknown even to Welsh followers, was splendid at scrum-half and Dewi Lake, the captain restored from injury, was inspirational.

"But perhaps it was the players who took advantage of the absences to win their caps that were most impressive, because Ben Carter and Matthew Screech performed marvels in the second row, and Taine Plumtree was arguably the outstanding Welsh player — with the exception of Mason Grady, the powerhouse centre who competed well with the South Africa midfield, tackled devastatingly and looked the kind of player around whom Warren Gatland can form his new team."

News 24

South African publication admitted that the final score line perhaps didn't do the contest justice.

"The final scoreline perhaps flattered the Boks a bit, but in the end they did enough to seal a comfortable win," wrote Herman Mostert.

"The Boks led 14-13 at half-time. They started like a house on fire when centre Jesse Kriel scored a stunning try, while a penalty try after a dominant driving maul saw them take a 14-3 lead.

"However, Wales hit back in the latter parts of the first half. This came despite them being down to 13 men at one stage. They scored a try through hooker and captain Dewi Lake and even threatened to take the lead before the break."