Wales coach Warren Gatland says his team has to produce an improved performance in their World Cup semi-final against the Springboks on Sunday.
Wales snatched a nervy, last-gasp 20-19 win over a 14-man France side, who were in control for large parts of their quarter-final despite conceding a red card.
When asked what Wales need to do if they are to overcome South Africa in their last-four encounter, Gatland said they have to play better because they’ve used their ‘get out of jail free card’ already.
‘We’re a bit disappointed about yesterday’s performance, we didn’t think we played as well as we could,’ Gatland lamented.
‘In reflection, I think we showed some great character out there and got the win. We’ve got to park last night and say we’ve played our get out of jail card and get excited about this week.’
The 56-year-old Gatland explained that he expects South Africa to launch a similar challenge than France and that Boks’ linespeed in defence and kicking game will put Wales under pressure.
‘We’re fairly familiar with South Africa, we’ve had some close encounters in recent years and we’ve had some good success,’ he added.
‘We know it’s going to be a tough game, but we’ll be up for it, we’ll be ready for challenges posed for us on Sunday and we’re excited about where we are at the moment and the chance to be in a World Cup final.’
Wales have won five of the last six Tests against the Springboks dating back to 2014, but Gatland was adamant that his side go in to the semi-final as underdogs.
‘If you look at the numbers of adult males playing rugby in Wales, we had lowest contingent of eight quarter-finalists.
‘We’re punching massively above our weight and what we’ve achieved in the last 18 months or so in terms of 18, 19 competitive games we’ve won in a row is something pretty special. We’re here now, you’ve got to step up to next stage and that is a semi-final game.
‘You get these kind of opportunities once in a lifetime potentially, so you’ve got to grab them with both hands and make the most of it. It’s important to prepare well this week, let the occasion take care of itself … You go out there and leave nothing on the table, make the most of your chances and have no regrets,’ he added.
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