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Gatland: Penalty try was right

Wales coach Warren Gatland believes referee Steve Walsh was correct to award South Africa the late penalty try which condemned his side to a heartbreaking 31-30 defeat at the Mbombela Stadium.

Wales were vastly improved from their abject first Test defeat and registered tries through Jamie Roberts, Alex Cuthbert and Ken Owens, while Dan Biggar kicked 15 points.

But South Africa denied them a first win over the Springboks on their own turf thanks to two penalty tries, scores from Cornal Hendricks and Willie le Roux, plus 11 points from the boot of Morne Steyn.

The clinching score came in dramatic fashion.

Wales, having held leads of 17 and 13 points at different stages, were up 30-24 with just over two minutes remaining when Hendricks escaped the clutches of George North down the right flank.

It left full-back Liam Williams covering across to make a try-saving tackle, but the Scarlets man did not make an effort to wrap his arms around Hendricks and instead shoulder-charged him into touch.

Walsh referred the incident to Television Match Official Glenn Newman, and after seeing replays from several angles the referee explained his decision at length to Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones before heading under the posts to award the penalty try.

South Africa still needed the conversion but the award of the penalty try made Steyn's kick a formality from in front of the posts.

"There has been a lot of debate about it and I have no problem with that decision," Gatland said.

"Some people have said there is no guarantee he would have scored the try and could it have been a penalty or a yellow card, or something like that. But those are different things.

"In the end, I would have rather Hendricks had scored the try and have them to kick the conversion from the touchline.

"We have made an error there defensively, which is disappointing. Hendricks got outside George North and unfortunately Liam has come and led with his shoulder.

"So from that point of view I don't have an issue with the decision."

Williams appeared close to tears as Steyn lined up the conversion and he slumped to the floor at full-time.

And Gatland revealed the 23-year-old had apologised to his team-mates in the dressing room.

He said: "He is devastated about it and he has apologised to the boys in the changing room. For him as an individual, he has got to learn from that.

"What you have got to keep reminding players is that at certain levels they can get away with things, if there is a lesser referee and the officials and TMO are not as good.

"But at this higher level, you just do not get away with anything and you have got to be squeaky clean.

"That's what this was about for us. There were a few indiscretions that were costly for us at the end of the day.

"I think he will learn from that experience and hopefully he doesn't do it again."


From Belfast Telegraph