South Africa 32-29 Wales: Captain Dan Biggar rues missed opportunity against Springboks
Wales captain Dan Biggar was left ruing his side’s missed opportunity after an agonising 32-29 defeat against South Africa in Pretoria.
Wales led 18-3 at half-time but indiscipline cost them four yellow cards, with Wayne Pivac’s team at one stage reduced to 12 men.
Biggar was sin-binned, missed a late conversion and gave away the match-winning penalty by Damian Willemse.
“It was a definite missed opportunity,” said Biggar.
The Wales captain had kept his side in the game with 14 points before missing a late conversion – after Dewi Lake’s try – when the scores were level.
He was then punished for a deliberate knock-on which resulted in the winning kick.
Reflecting on his final few minutes, the Wales fly-half added: “It’s one of those, isn’t it? I’ve been around the game long enough to have had some good moments and that was a bit of a disappointing moment not to nail off.
“I thought the penalty at the end was a little bit harsh. The ball has just hit my hand as opposed to me slapping it down. It’s the way it is.
“I would say it was an absolute privilege to play out there today. It was one of the best grounds I’ve ever played at.”
Biggar, Alun Wyn Jones, Louis Rees-Zammit and Rhys Carre were shown yellow cards by Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli.
Biggar demonstrated his frustration towards the officials on the field but refused to blame them for the defeat.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves first,” added Biggar.
“We certainly gave some easy ins and probably gave some easy decisions with some of those penalties.
“It’s difficult to say too much when you’re quite emotional. When you go back and have a look at it, we’ll be in a better place to make a judgement on it.
“We felt some of them were a little bit harsh. But conversely when you give a team like South Africa a little bit of an in and a bit of momentum, it’s very difficult to stop and probably quite easy to referee.
“We are disappointed and we’ll have to go away and look at it in a couple of days.”
Biggar believes Wales silenced some doubters by running the world champions so close at altitude.
“As a group we’re incredibly proud of the effort we’ve put in,” said Biggar.
“The last thing I want to do is to come into a press conference and be brave losers. But I don’t think anybody would have predicted the game would have worked out like that at midday today.
“We were very confident going into the game that if we stuck to task we’d be right in the mix.”
Biggar rejected the claim South Africa would get stronger and Wales would get weaker in the two remaining matches in the series in Bloemfontein and Cape Town.
“Everybody is saying how much better the Springboks will be next week but for us as well, a lot of our boys haven’t played for a while,” added Biggar.
“For us to put up a show in the first Test at altitude and against the world champions, there is no reason why we can’t get better next week either.
“The Springboks might get better for next week, but I’d like to think we will too. If anything, we’ve gained a bit of confidence.”
There was niggle during the match between the two sides but Biggar said it did not carry any significance.
“I don’t what the referee expected us to do – come here and lie down and let South Africa have everything their own way?” he added.
“I don’t know what the issue is. It’s a Test match. We wanted to get in among it and not take a backward step.
“That’s part of the game at the minute. If you stand off South Africa out here, you are going to get steamrolled pretty quickly.
“You have to show some fight and energy and some aggression and competitiveness.
“They were as niggly and competitive as we were, but that was perfect for us and exactly what we wanted. That’s exactly what you want from a Test match, you want it aggressive and abrasive. I didn’t see any issue.
“There was no dirty play. You shake hands afterwards and there is no issue.”