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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — A 100% success rate against South Africa between Rugby World Cups didn’t translate into a drought-breaking semifinal win for Wales.
It was close — so close — again. If only they could get it right in the knockouts.
Wales extended its run of never winning a World Cup semifinal when it went down 19-16 to the Springboks on a blustery Sunday night, and will go into the bronze medal playoff for the third time.
It won’t get any easier for the injury-plagued Welsh squad, with the two-time defending champion New Zealand All Blacks awaiting them at Tokyo Stadium next Friday.
That’ll be New Zealander Warren Gatland’s last game in charge after 12 years with Wales. It’ll be Steve Hansen’s last in charge of the All Blacks, who were on track for a third straight title until a 19-7 loss to England on Saturday. Obviously, both teams still have a lot to play for.
New Zealand remains the only top-tier team Gatland hasn’t beaten as Wales coach and he knows the All Blacks very rarely lose two tests in a row.
South Africa’s previous victory over Wales was a 23-19 quarterfinal win at the 2015 World Cup, clinched with a Fourie du Preez try
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