Sunday, June 08, 2008
It was billed as the battle of the hemispheres, the world champions against the winners of the Six Nations, but at times it was like men against boys. That might sound a bit unfair to Ryan Jones' Grand Slammers, but their coach, Warren Gatland, offered no excuses after a tough day in Bloemfontein.
The New Zealander likened some of his players to "rabbits in the headlights" and said he was "a little bit embarrassed" by the scoreline. South Africa scored four tries to two.
"At the end of the day we weren't good enough and we were physically dominated by a better side," Gatland said. "I am a little bit embarrassed by the performance because we came here with high hopes and expectations. Even though we were talking coming into the game about confidence and self-belief, we didn't demonstrate it. We had players who carried the ball well in the Six Nations, but at times there were eyes up, looking for the tackler, and some of the players were like rabbits startled in the headlights.
The Springboks, playing their first game under a new coach, Pieter de Villiers, fielded only five of the starting line-up from the 2007 World Cup final in Paris. Wales started with nine of their 2008 Grand Slam side.
They meet again next weekend in Pretoria, where Wales will be looking for an improved performance and the Springboks will be wanting to build on the new combinations.
Note: This has been updated with better quality highlights.