South Africa 17 Wales 16

Wales came agonisingly close to pulling off a shock win over South Africa this morning in their opening match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Warren Gatland's team produced a stunning second-half comeback against the reigning world champions but eventually fell short losing the match 17-16 in controversial circumstances.

South Africa were quickest out of the blocks and Francois Steyn brushed aside James Hook's weak tackle to touch down for the game's opening try and Morne Steyn made no mistake with the conversion.

Steyn then added two first-half penalties to extend South Africa's lead. Hook replied twice with the boot for Wales but was judged to have missed a straightforward first-half penalty even though replays suggested otherwise.

The Springboks lost their inspirational second-row forward Victor Matfield early in the second half and Hook punished Butch James's infringement at the breakdown to reduce the deficit to a single point.

Wales fly-half Rys Priestland then produced a moment of magic providing a perfectly judged pass for No8 Toby Flateau who crashed through the South African cover to dot down for a five pointer.

South Africa brought on Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp and Willem Alberts to beef up the forward pack as they looked to rescue the match.

The Springboks got their reward when substitute Francois Hougaard scored a try under the posts with 14 minutes remaning. However, Wales weren't finished and clawed their way back into the game only for Priestland to miss a straightforward drop-goal attempt which would have secured a famous win.

Wales full-back Hook admitted that the team had spurned a guilt-edged chance to beat the reigning world cup champions: 'We're bitterly disappointed. We came so close. We were quite confident all week but we came up just short.'

'We played really well and we didn't quite get the victory and in a tournament like this, it's all about getting the win.'

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