Killed in the pool of death?
It had seemed for so long as if this game might provide more evidence for the theory that tough pools actually benefit sides more than the softer ones do. South Africa looked messy and imprecise for all but the killer moment five minutes from the end when their two best players combined to score the telling try. Until then, despite Wales assuming their defensive mindset from as early as half an hour out, South Africa could not make their possession tell, spilling balls right, left and centre, and making a mess of the restarts. In the first half, when Dan Biggar gathered his own up and under to pave the way for Wales’s try, Willie le Roux took an age to realise the ball had gone up and allowed Biggar a clean catch. For nearly 75 minutes the Springboks smacked of a side who had not been tested in their previous three matches, up against a Wales team who were hard and insatiable, albeit loose in the set piece, as they have been throughout. But Wales’s legs and minds visibly tired in those final 10 minutes, their epic battles against England and Australia finally taking their toll. And South Africa rediscovered their class when it mattered most.
Two world-class scrum-halves
When Rhys Webb was lost to the World Cup before it had even started, Gareth Davies was finally promoted to the starting berth his richly promising career has for so long deserved. Wales held its breath. We knew about the pace and trickery. What about the game management? Here any doubts were erased. His pace was never in question, and there it was again when he was on hand for Wales’s try in the first half. If his game management was in question at this level it was only because we didn’t know. We do now. He had an excellent match in defence, his decision-making sound and his kicking cute. If only he had stayed on. He might have stayed with Fourie du Preez at the end.