Wales will be hoping to finish their tour of South Africa on a high when they take on the Springboks in the series decider in Cape Town on Saturday.
Easier said than done, as they will take on a South African side who will be determined to bounce back after suffering a shock defeat against the tourists in Bloemfontein last weekend.
That result was momentous for Wales as it was the first time they had managed to beat the Boks on South African soil. Although the visitors will do their best to win on Saturday, their tour will still be considered a success regardless of the outcome, as they came into the series as overwhelming losers.
After a forgettable Six Nations campaign, in which they finished fifth and lost to bottom-placed Italy, many pundits believed that Wales would be like lambs to the slaughter against the Boks, who were widely inclined to seal a comfortable victory by 3-0 in the series.
It was not to be, however, as the visitors were competitive from the start and after suffering a narrow 32-29 loss in their first test match in Pretoria, squared the series thanks to that 13-12 win at Bloemfontein in the second test. .
Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber made a whopping 14 changes to his starting line-up for that encounter as he gave several of the fringe players in his 42-man squad some playing time, but one could argue that their plan failed since they lost that. encounter, though Nienaber would likely always remember his first-choice players for this weekend’s Trial.
Regardless, their loss in the second Test means the reigning world champions will feel the pressure heading into this clash and it must be remembered that recent matches in this fixture have been close affairs, with a margin of victory of five points or less. in six of the last seven Tests between these countries.
What happened in the first Test
After claiming a narrow 32-29 win at Pretoria in the series opener, the Springboks stunned when they made big swings for the second test against Bloemfontein. Although the Boks tried to change their style by opting to play more expansively, they were frustrated by a solid defensive effort from Wayne Pivac’s troops and the teams were tied 3-3 at halftime after Dan Biggar and Handre Pollard exchanged early penalties. . The Boks wrote back after the break and held a 12-3 lead for the hour of play after Pollard made it with three more penalties before Gareth Anscombe reduced the gap when he added a three-pointer from the spot in the 67th minute. That set up a tense finish and Wales stunned their hosts when Josh Adams crossed for a try at the left corner in the 78th minute before Anscombe showed his class to score the conversion from near the touchline and in doing so , assured. his country’s first victory against the Boks on South African soil.
what they say
After last week’s loss, Springbok tighthead Frans Malherbe is hoping for a better effort from the world champions, but is bracing for another tough challenge from Wales.
“The fact that we lost the match last week is a reality, so it is our responsibility to be clinical and efficient in our preparation this week and to do everything we can to win what is essentially a final,” he said.
“The teams are tied at one in the series, so Wales will go into the match very confident. For us it will be a matter of working on the areas of our game that we need to improve in order to be more effective.”
Meanwhile, Wales flanker Adams is preparing for a tough challenge and is hoping Saturday’s test goes all the way.
“South Africa is a great team. They have shown it in both Tests and have been close in both games. I have no doubt that it will be exactly the same this weekend,” he said.
“It’s important to focus our minds on being the first team to come here and win a Test series. That is our only goal as a team.”
players to watch
Whatever the end result of this match, it will be a memorable game for the Springbok hardman. Eben Etzebeth, who will be racing for the hundredth time at the test level for the three-time world champions and doing it in his hometown will make it even more special. The 30-year-old second row is a true enforcer, giving his all to the Springbok cause and will be at the forefront of the Bok attack as they look to outdo their Welsh counterparts. Rated as one of the best players in the world at his position, Etzebeth enjoys the physical nature of the game and will be in the thick of the action from the start. Etzebeth, the only Springbok to start all three Tests against Wales, will be determined to mark the special occasion with a win.
Another player who will be celebrating a historic game is Bok Hooker. Bongi Mbonambi, who is making his 50th appearance for South Africa. Like Etzebeth, Mbonambi is a vital cog in the Springbok machine, always giving his all for the cause. Excellent in the execution of his primary duties, the 31-year-old has cemented his place in the Boks secondary side with some standout performances in recent years and will be looking to hit the ground running as the Boks forwards try to take control of proceedings. hoping to establish a solid platform for their backs.
Also keep an eye on the young scrum half jaden hendrikse, whose selection came as a huge surprise as it came at the expense of veteran number nine Faf de Klerk, who has been named as one of Bok’s replacements. Despite being only 22 years old and playing in only his fourth test, Hendrikse is highly rated in South Africa. He has an impressive skill set with a crisp serve to his outside backs and has an excellent kicking game. It is this last department that will be in the spotlight as it is an important facet of the game in the Boks’ armory and if he masters it, he should pave the way to victory for his team.
For tourists, one player who will be keen to make an impact is the experienced outsider. george north, who will become Wales’s most capped defender when he takes the field in this match. The 30-year-old made his Test return in this series, after a year-long absence due to a serious knee injury, but North’s contribution to the Welsh cause has been mainly limited to defensive duties, as he has had few opportunities to show off. the outstanding set of attack skills from him. Hopefully, that changes on Saturday.
Wales have done well in forward exchanges during this series and one player who has been very consistent for the tourists is the Ospreys second row. adam beard. The British and Irish Lions block will begin their third test in a row and, as in the previous two meetings, is expected to win most of the Welsh lineout possession. The 26-year-old has also impressed defensively, as he risks his body in that department, especially in tight spaces around the edges of rucks and mauls.
The visitors were shot in the arm when their captain Dan Biggar he was declared fit for this matchup after he was forced to leave the field at Bloemfontein with a shoulder injury. Although his replacement, Anscombe, shone during the closing stages of that game, Biggar’s presence is important for Wales as he is a vital cog in the Welsh machine. He brings out the best in his teammates, while his decision-making under pressure has been excellent so far. Wales supporters will expect a big turnaround from him on Saturday.
main face to face
With the home team welcoming their first-choice players, it means an inspiring pattern. Siya Kolisi is among those returning to action and his duel with the rookie flanker from Wales tommy refell It must be one of the highlights of this accessory. Refell has been one of the stars of the Wales tour and despite only playing in his third Test, the Boks – and especially Kolisi – will be wary of him and the threat he poses both as a defender and on the pitch where he has won. . some crucial turnovers in the previous two games.
Kolisi opened the series opener in Pretoria but had a quiet game by his high standards, while Reffell was thriving and the Springbok were eliminated early in the second half. In fact, the home team played better while he was off the pitch and managed to claim a win from behind on that occasion. However, it must be remembered that the Bok captain is South Africa’s player of the year and rarely performs poorly in successive games. Although not a breakdown specialist like Refell, Kolisi has other strengths on the ball which he carries in particular one area where he will be eager to shine to give his team attacking momentum.
With most of their heavy weapons back, the home team will have a spring in their step and are unlikely to stray from their tried and trusted methods that have brought them so much success in recent years. Although Wales will meet fire with fire, the Boks’ power play will give them an advantage. South Africa win by three points.
2022: Wales won 13-12 at Bloemfontein
2022: South Africa won 32-29 in Pretoria
2021: South Africa won 23-18 in Cardiff
2019: South Africa won 19-16 in Yokohama (RWC)
2018: South Africa won 20-11 in Cardiff
2018: Wales won 22-20 in Washington DC
2017: Wales won 24-22 in Cardiff
2016: Wales won 27-13 in Cardiff
South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Elrigh Louw, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux
Welsh: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar (c), 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Owen Watkin
Date: Saturday, July 16
Event: DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Kick off: 17:05 local time (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
OMT: Brett Cronan (Australia)
READ MORE: Opinion: Springboks make a massive statement with Jaden Hendrikse’s surprise pick over Faf de Klerk
The article South Africa v Wales Preview: Springboks win series with narrow victory in Cape Town appeared first on Planetrugby.com.