Wales suffer Rugby World Cup semi-final heartache after losing to South Africa

  • Video report by ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott

Wales suffered Rugby World Cup semi-final agony after going down 19-16 to South Africa in a pulsating clash.

Wales were looking to set up a mouth-watering World Cup final clash with England but suffered heartache in Yokohama.

Their formidable powers of resilience saw them chasing the game against the Springboks for much of a bruising encounter before finally coughing up one penalty too many.

Trailing 9-6 at the break, the Welsh side - which suffered a number of big name injuries during the clash - saw themselves fall further behind in the 57th minute when South African centre Damian de Allende fought off some weak tackling to barrel over.

But after a period of sustained forward pressure, Wales finally conjured an opening on the wing for Josh Adams to score in the corner with Leigh Halfpenny slotting the conversion to bring the scores level at 16-16 in the 64th minute.

However, South African fly-half Handre Pollard stayed calm to slot over the winning penalty with just four minutes to go.

For Wales, who were semi-final casualties against France eight years ago when captain Sam Warburton was sent off, it proved an agonising experience.

Their hopes of confirming a first all-northern hemisphere Rugby World Cup final were dashed and they also lost wing George North and prop Tomas Francis to first-half injuries.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones told ITV: "We stayed in the arm wrestle. I'm proud of us when we went 16-all but we probably piggy-backed the penalties down the park and South Africa took advantage so congratulations to them.

"Today, we fell short but hopefully (will) get another opportunity. It wasn't our day but I'm still proud to pull this jersey on and represent all the people in red in the stadium."

South Africa players celebrate at the final whistle. Credit: PA

Wales coach Warren Gatland told ITV: "We probably gave away too many penalties in our own half and that cost us dearly but I'm proud of the fact that we never gave up and got ourselves back into that game and we were in the arm wrestle.

"Two or three scrum penalties, a couple of line-out penalties are disappointing and that's the difference between the two teams."

Gatland said he was proud of his team who have punched "massively above our weight".

He added: "They gave 100 per cent. It was a tough, physical South Africa team that we played against. Our guys didn't take a backward step and I can only be proud of them for that.

"At 16-all it was pretty close and you're sort of dreaming about the three points being the other way but like I said, congratulations to South Africa and I think it will be a great final between England and South Africa."

Wales coach Warren Gatland said he was 'so proud' of his side. Credit: PA

Kensington Palace tweeted a seemingly personal message signed "W" for Prince William congratulating the Welsh side and its skipper for making the nation proud with a "heroic performance".

Had Wales won, it would have been the first Rugby World Cup final ever to be contested between two Northern Hemisphere sides after England's marvellous win over the might All Blacks on Saturday.

Wales will now face New Zealand in the third place play-off on Friday before England take on South Africa in the final on Saturday morning, UK time.