Wales looking to capitalise on their pressure with Rhys Patchell sliced an attempted drop-goal wide, but Pollard kept his composure to end Wales’ hopes as Dillon Lewis’ rash decision to drive into the maul proved decisive.
After declining a penalty in favour of a scrum, Wales responded in force and they had their reward as Leigh Halfpenny stepping into Biggar’s shoes and Jonathan Davies teed up Adams to race over to level the scores.
On-point Pollard proves Wales’ failure
While also making the breakthrough in what was a stellar individual performance, converting all of his kicks for the opening try, he hit form in style in Yokohama.
Pollard scored a drop goal and kicked five penalties in the 2015 quarter-final defeat Wales but this year prior to Sunday’s encounter he had struggled for consistency with his kicking.
Gatland left to ponder what may have been
Wales were hit by an injury losing key men North and Francis in the space of four first-half minutes to starting full-back Liam Williams in the week, with the Six Nations champions.
Wales just did not have enough to overcome Rassie Erasmus’ resilient Boks without some of their most consistent big-game performers, meaning Gatland bows out with the biggest prize of them all what has been an extraordinary tenure without having the opportunity to cap.
– At the 2019 Rugby World Cup, that was the first time that Handre Pollard had managed from the tee a 100 per cent goal-kicking rate.
– In Washington in 2018, apart from featuring 13 debutants and having a 22-20 win over an experimental South Africa side, Wales have still not defeated South Africa outside Cardiff.
– South Africa made 39 kicks, their most since the 2007 final against England (48) while Wales made 39 kicks from hand in the game, the most they have made in a Rugby World Cup game since 1991 versus Argentina (48).
– Wales could only average 1.7 metres per carry in this match while South Africa averaged four metres per carry.
– Alun Wyn Jones including Lions matches won his 142nd Test cap, equalling Sergio Parisse in Test history behind Richie McCaw as the second-most-capped player.