Rugby Union: HOOK, WHINE AND SINKER FOR GATLAND; AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS.
SOUTH AFRICA 20
WORLD champions South Africa recorded their 10th successive victory over Wales - but only after a major scare.
Wales trailed by 17 points approaching the hour, yet four James Hook penalties gave the RBS 6 Nations titleholders hope of a win.
They had not beaten the Springboks since 1999, and ultimately paid a hefty price for conceding 10 points in the first nine minutes - and handing South Africa an interception try.
Hook also played the role of villain, as his first touch after replacing Stephen Jones was to find Jean de Villiers, rather than his teammate Jamie Roberts.
De Villiers sprinted from inside his own half to score, giving South Africa the breathing space they required.
Fellow centre Adrian Jacobs claimed an early try, while fly-half Ruan Pienaar converted both touchdowns and kicked two penalties.
Debutant wing Leigh Halfpenny also booted a penalty for Wales, which highlighted an impressive display by the 19-year-old.
Halfpenny's Cardiff Blues colleague, No8 Andy Powell, also shone, but Wales struggled to impose their kicking game on the Springboks, who triumphed despite never hitting top gear.
Wales coach Warren Gatland said: "Good teams convert situations into points, and we should be furious because we had the chance to beat the world champions and let ourselves down.
"The players have got to learn from that. But to be honest, I'm really proud of the performance. We know we're not too far away."
STOP OF THE BOKS: Wales halt Pienaar's run
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Nov 9, 2008|
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