Coach Warren Gatland felt Wales “just weren’t good enough to win” after their Rugby World Cup adventure was ended at the quarter-final stage following a 23-19 defeat to South Africa at Twickenham.
Wales led 19-18 with five minutes to go but a beautiful offload from the back of the scrum by Duane Vermeulen allowing scrum-half Fourie du Preez to scoot into the corner for the match-winning try.
Gareth Davies crossed for Wales in the first half amd Dan Biggar added 14 points with boot with Gatland’s injury-ravaged team came up short.
Gatland told ITV1: “It’s tough, the boys gave it everything and we just weren’t good enough to hang on in the last few minutes.
“I don’t want to make any excuses (about Wales’ injury list). At the end of the day South Africa won the game and we weren’t good enough to win.
“At the end of the day South Africa did what South Africa do. They hung in there right until the end. They got one chance and they took it and that was the result.”
The New Zealander now will turn his attention to the RBS 6 Nations campaign and will hope the likes of Rhys Webb, Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies can come back into the fold after injury.
Gatland added: “There’s a number of players that will come back in the next four to six months. We’ve got the Six Nations to look forward to now and then a tour of New Zealand next year.”
Springboks captain Du Preez couldn’t contain his delight after going over to put South Africa in front after trailing for the majority of the second half.
Du Preez said: “I must say it was an awesome feeling in a tight game. I was just delighted that we could pull it through.
“It was a tough game and they came on to us all game. We just kept pushing, kept pushing.
“We’ve still got two more games to go, obviously New Zealand or France. We’ve learnt from the Japan game and the character from this team and the belief is amazing.”