Welsh Rugby Union | Wales & Regions

The Dragons lock played the full 80 minutes in last weekend’s dramatic 32-29 defeat at Loftus Versfeld, with 15 penalties awarded against Wales as well as a four yellow cards.

“It was a game we could have won and definitely should have drawn. That’s why we feel so disappointed,” admitted Rowlands.

“There were some good aspects about our performance, and we put them under some pressure, but there are definitely things for us to work on that ultimately stopped us getting a result.

“Our discipline is one of them. We gave away too many penalties which led to them getting a number of driving line-outs in our 22.

“They are hard to defend and we have to focus on cutting down the number of penalties we concede to limit their chances. We need to be able to impose our game on them.”

Rowlands was at the heart of a heroic Welsh performance up front and helped his side to win all times one line-out. It was a game that once again enhanced the growing reputation of the Welsh Rugby Writers’ Association ‘Welsh Player of the Year’ last season.

“I enjoyed the game and I love playing for Wales. It’s great to be able to challenge the best players in the world, especially the South African locks,” added Rowlands.

“Line-out wise it was OK, but we just found ourselves defending so many mauls. They weren’t able to kick to the corner so much in the first half.

“Having players in the sin bin made it even more difficult in the second half. We knew what was coming from the Springboks, but it is a whole different kettle of fish trying to deal with it.”

This weekend’s second Test will once again be played at altitude and Wales will be missing experienced tight-head prop Tomas Francis, who has headed home after being concussed after coming on in the second half at Loftus Versfeld.

The Springboks will be defending a run of 11 straight wins over Wales in their own back yard in Bloemfontein. The third Test will be in Cape Town next week.

“There is a belief amongst us that we can still go on to win the series. We were disappointed after the first Test, but now we’re excited at what we can do this weekend,” said Rowlands.

“I don’t really know what to expect in the second Test, but hopefully it is just more of the same. It really was a fantastic atmosphere in Pretoria and I felt very lucky to be a part of it.

“I hope it is more of the same because playing in those big rugby cauldrons filled with passionate fans is ultimately what you want to be doing. I am really enjoying my rugby at the moment and long may that continue.

“It would be nice to win the first game on SA soil and make a bit of history, but from my point of view whenever you play a Test match you take it as it comes. You just want to go out there and win.

“You don’t think about the history as the game is going on. We want to get a result because we are playing Test rugby and we are here to win.

“There is a lot of pride in pulling on the Welsh jersey and that drags out a bit more in you as an individual and as a team. There was a lot of motivation coming into this summer series to try and deliver some performances, we know we are capable of having had a slightly disappointing end to the Six Nations.

“We felt like we probably owed that to ourselves and to the Welsh public.”

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