Elias' late try lifts Wales over South Africa

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Wales celebrates after beating South Africa 22-20 in a friendly at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC

Warren Gatland believes his young players showed Welsh rugby has a bright future after they held on to secure a dramatic 22-20 victory over South Africa at Washington?s RFK Stadium on Saturday.

The game in the American capital had its critics, with both sides fielding inexperienced line-ups ahead of their Test series with Argentina and England respectively.

Gatland had hit back in the build-up to kick-off, declaring critics "bitter and twisted" and then saw his players deliver on the pitch thanks to a late match-winning try from Ryan Elias.

A penalty from Robert du Preez looked to have given the South Africans victory, but the replacement fly-half then had a clearance kick charged down by Tomos Williams and Elias pounced to win the game.

"Who would want to be a coach?" Gatland said. "The end was dramatic and maybe our game management could have been better, but I thought we played well in the first half.

"The young guys will take a lot from this and there will be a lot of learning from them moving forwards. I thought captain Ellis Jenkins was outstanding and so was Tomos Williams.

"There are a couple of things to work on, but we are looking forward to going to Argentina now which will be a big step up for us."

Skipper Jenkins added: "The guys showed great determination to see out the game and the main positive is the caps and experience some of our younger guys got from the game.

"It's a Test match and the atmosphere was very good. Everything we've heard surrounding this game was very positive and we're really pleased to get the result."

Wales had gone to the break 14-3 up, tries from Hallam Amos and scrum-half debutant Williams responding to a penalty from Elton Jantjies.

- Evans injured -

In the second half the Springboks hit back as Williams' fellow Test debutants Travis Ismaiel and Makazole Mapimpi both crossed for tries, the latter coming after a yellow card for Wales centre Owen Watkin.

Du Preez then replaced Jantjies and kicked South Africa ahead, but Elias won it at the death. The only downside for Wales was an injury to Steffan Evans which required a scan.

"Steff hyper-extended his knee and we'll have to have a look at that on a scan," Gatland said. "It doesn't look brilliant, but we'll just have to wait and see.

"The heat out there was something we'll experience in Japan at the World Cup next year and that will be a big benefit to us moving forwards."

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus was disappointed to see his team lose at the death in what was the former Munster boss' first game in charge of the Springboks.

"We didn't get the result we wanted and that's disappointing because no one ever wants to lose a Test match," Erasmus said. "There were a lot of defensive errors and we have to improve.

"All three of Wales' tries came from kicking errors and overall it was very tough."

Wales celebrates after beating South Africa 22-20 in a friendly at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC

Wales' Ryan Elias (L) scores the winning try against South Africa after Tomos Williams (R) blocked a clearance kick

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus was disappointed to see his team lose against Wales at the death in what was the former Munster boss' first game in charge of the Springboks