Liam Williams Dissecting Wales’ semi-final defeat by South Africa: Where did it go wrong for Warren Gatland’s men?

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Liam WilliamsInjuries cost Welsh dearly

Wales have been desperately unlucky with injuries. Josh Navidi and Liam Williams were ruled out of the tournament last week, while Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes both headed into the semi-final carrying lingering injuries. It made for less than ideal preparation, not just in the sense of sapping Welsh morale but fundamentally limiting the way in which Gatland’s men could take on the Springboks.

Many suggested in the wake of defeat that Wales should have been more ambitious, more adventurous in their approach, but the reality is that they lacked the personnel to deploy such a game plan. Take into account the absence of Gareth Anscombe and Taulupe Faletau – both of whom were never part of the equation from day one – as well as the injury sustained by George North before the break, and it’s easy to see why Wales were so muted at times. They simply didn’t possess the star-factor needed to unpick their stubborn opponents.

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Liam WilliamsWales get sucked into slogfest up front

It was a true war of attrition. There was none of the thrill and rush of Saturday’s semi-final. This was a grinding, bone-crushing slogfest that drained every kernel of willpower from both sets of players.

But in attempting to match South Africa for their physicality, Wales were always going to be taking a risk. The sight of Tomas Francis, no shrinking violet, being steam-rolled by Duane Vermeulen early on in the match was a painful reminder of what the Welsh were up against. 

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