Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Rugby World Cup: Heartache for Wales

South Africa 17 Wales 16: Jamie Roberts has reflected the mood in Wales' World Cup camp by conceding there is no time to dwell on their shattering Springboks loss.

The giant Cardiff Blues centre produced his best Wales performance since starring on the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

But not even Roberts' scintillating display could give Wales the win they so badly wanted as South Africa prevailed 17-16 after Morne Steyn converted substitute Francois Hougaard's 65th-minute try.

“Sport can be very cruel times,” said Roberts (pictured).

“When you lose by one point to the world champions in your opening game of the World Cup, it's a pretty bitter pill to swallow.

“It's heartbreaking. The changing room was a very sombre place. You can't really put it into words, but to put it simply, it was a game we should have won.

“But this tournament is too short to dwell on a result like that, and there is no doubt we need to get up in the morning and take the positives from the game.

“We just need to pick our heads up. It is a week's turnaround until we play Samoa, and we need to win our remaining three games (against Samoa, Namibia and Fiji).

“We will get up in the morning and work even harder. There is no secret formula.

“There is a huge amount of self-belief in this team, and if we win our remaining pool games we will be in the quarter-finals, so that's the aim for us now.”

Wales scored 13 unanswered points after trailing 10-3, and there were large parts of a gripping Pool D encounter when Roberts and company made South Africa look second-best.

“Territorially, I thought we outplayed them,” he added.

“We couldn't have asked for more effort, it was outstanding, but maybe a couple of concentration lapses in defence hurt us.

“As a team, we can be very proud of the performance. It's all about next week now, and we know Samoa will provide formidable opposition.

Wales fielded nine World Cup debutants in their starting line-up, and the likes of try scorer Toby Faletau, captain Sam Warburton and blindside flanker Dan Lydiate were among those who made a major impact.

“I just hope we put on a performance to make everyone back home proud, and the fans who have come out here to support us. It's about making them happy and making them proud,” added Roberts.

“I hope we did that, regardless of the result. It's about pride and passion.

“We have come a very long way. There is a lot of experience, but there are also a fair number of players who are relatively young.

“They've come on leaps and bounds in the last year or two and really shown they can compete with the best in the world.

“That is particularly pleasing. The back row (Lydiate, Warburton and Faletau) was immense. They deserve special praise.”

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