Rugby World Cup: Wales lost killer instinct - Jonathan Davies

Scott Williams and Liam Williams
Wales missed the "killer instinct" of Scott Williams and Liam Williams, says Jonathan Davies

Wales would have beaten South Africa in the World Cup quarter-finals had they not been deprived of key attackers, says former captain Jonathan Davies.

Liam Williams, Scott Williams, Jonathan Davies and Leigh Halfpenny all missed the loss to the Springboks with injury.

Wales failed to convert early pressure at Twickenham and were beaten 23-19 after Fourie du Preez's late try.

"I'm convinced if Wales would've had Liam Williams and Scott Williams they would have scored," said Davies.

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Centre Scott Williams was ruled out after being injured during the Pool A win over England, while full-back or wing Liam Williams had his participation ended by a foot injury in the defeat by Australia.

Both are unlikely to recover in time to play any part in the 2016 Six Nations.

Coach Warren Gatland also lost centre Corey Allen and wing Hallam Amos during the pool stages, while centre Davies, full-back Leigh Halfpenny and scrum-half Rhys Webb were pre-World Cup casualties.

Halfpenny, Davies and Liam and Scott Williams have scored 33 tries between them for Wales.

Wales' World Cup casualty list
Leigh Halfpenny, full-back (knee)Rhys Webb, scrum-half (foot)
Jonathan Davies, centre (knee)Scott Williams, centre (knee)
Cory Allen, centre (hamstring)Hallam Amos, wing (shoulder)
Liam Williams, wing/full-back (foot)Eli Walker, wing (hamstring)
Rhodri Jones, prop (arm)Scott Baldwin, hooker (TBC)
Dan Biggar, fly-half (head knock)Tyler Morgan, centre (TBC)

Gatland refused to use the long injury list as an excuse for his side's exit, but former fly-half Davies said the absence of key backs deprived Wales of the "killer instinct" needed to punish the best teams in the world at crucial moments.

"We had to score tries when we had two men extra [against Australia in the pool stage]," he said on BBC Wales' Scrum V programme. "We were slightly one-dimensional because of injuries.

"Liam Williams, Scott Williams and Leigh Halfpenny stay out wide and stretch defences and would have scored tries.

"Irrespective of the scrum and the penalties, we were depleted and that's the reason we didn't win."

Scrum V's World Cup closing montage

Saturday's defeat means Gatland has lost 28 of 30 games against South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

While acknowledging Wales have closed the gap on the southern hemisphere's dominant forces, former Wales flanker Martyn Williams believes a chasm remains when instinctive creativity is needed.

"The game plan has been what it is for so long. That's got its strengths and weaknesses," he said.

"The strength is all the players know what's expected of them and they get it every time. The downside to that is sometimes when you need to think outside the box, like when we had 15 against 13 against Australia, you've got to react on the field.

"We sometimes struggle with that. If we are going to take that next step I'm sure the coaches and the players will look at it."

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