Mason Grady and Cameron Winnett expressed their disappointment as Wales fell at the final hurdle in the U20 Six Nations Summer Series.
After maintaining a 100 per cent record in the pool stages - beating Scotland, Georgia and hosts Italy - Byron Hayward’s men met South Africa in the final on Tuesday.
Despite a strong second half showing from Wales, it was the Junior Boks who secured silverware following a dominant opening 40 in Treviso.
Wales’ highlight of the evening came courtesy of the Cardiff duo, with full back Winnett putting Grady into space, and the centre needing no second invitation to provide a sensational finish from deep.
Grady has been proud of his side’s overall campaign but was disappointed to miss out on the trophy on the final day.
“We’re obviously a bit gutted. We’ve shown character over the last three games and we’re just disappointed that we couldn’t get the trophy in the last game,” explained the academy graduate, who recently return from a serious knee injury.
“But fair play to South Africa, they fronted up well to win. They’re known for having a big pack and their physicality is amongst the best in the world.
“We probably stood down and gave them a bit too much respect in the first half.
“It’s always nice to score but it’s about winning at the end of the day. We couldn’t put that together and I’m a bit gutted about that.
“It’s been a class experience with one of the best group of boys I’ve been with. I’ve really enjoyed the tournament and thanks to Italy for hosting.”
Full back Winnett - who made his URC debut at the same stadium in May - shared the sentiment, and hopes he can use the experience when he returns to under-20 rugby next season.
He added: “It’s definitely a disappointing way to finish and the last game didn’t show what we can do compared to the other games.
“We’ve done really well during the campaign but we were disappointed with this one.
“In the first half we didn’t seem up to it, in terms of our work rate and getting off the line to hit them.
“But we came alive in the second half and showed what we were about a bit more.
“We showed glimpses of what we can do, but by that point the result was done.
“Overall we can be happy with three wins from four, and we’ve come a long way since the Six Nations. To come out here and win three from four is a huge improvement but we’re obviously gutted that we didn’t get the final result.
“There’s a few of us who will be back at this level and hopefully we can take this experience into next year. And for the younger boys coming up we can give them some of that experience to help them as well.”