RUGBY WORLD CUP: South Africa secure semi-final place after narrow win over Wales

South Africa's Fourie Du Preez (right) runs in to score the winning try against Wales
South Africa's Fourie Du Preez (right) runs in to score the winning try against Wales

WALES 19 SOUTH AFRICA 23

South Africa captain Fourie du Preez broke Welsh hearts by scoring a try five minutes from time to book the Springboks a World Cup semi-final place at Twickenham.

Wales led by a point, courtesy of scrum-half Gareth Davies’ first-half touchdown, three penalties, a drop-goal and conversion from Dan Biggar, but Du Preez struck when he sprinted clear from a close-range scrum and the two-time world champions prevailed 23-19.

It was rough justice on Wales, who were World Cup semi-finalists in New Zealand four years ago, after they gave as good as they got for almost all of an unforgettable last-four clash.

After beating South Africa in Cardiff 11 months ago, Wales did not lack belief, yet the Springboks continued their impressive recovery from losing against Japan just four weeks ago by posting a fourth successive win in the tournament.

Wales dominated for long periods, and it looked as though they might stay alive despite a crippling injury list that saw them lose six of their original World Cup squad, but they were undone by Du Preez’s try, plus five penalties and a drop-goal from Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard.

Several Wales players were strewn across the pitch at the final whistle, emotionally and physically spent, yet they will return home on Sunday with heads held high, knowing they could not have given any more.