Springboks To Overcome Understrength Welsh
Wales kicked off in Pool A by running in eight tries against Uruguay, then mounted a stirring late comeback to clinch a two-point victory over England.
They had to work hard against Fiji, enduring a brutal examination but held on for a 23-13 win to set up a Pool decider against Australia, but despite throwing everything at the Wallabies, they couldn’t break their defence and had to settle for second place in the Pool.
Having finished bottom of this summer’s Rugby Championship, South Africa were under a lot of pressure going into the World Cup and they got off to the worst possible start, losing a thrilling opening match against Japan. They recovered from that shock to register a 46-16 win over Samoa, a hard-fought victory over a battling Scotland side and a thrashing of the United States to top Pool B.
Wales already had an extensive injury list that included Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos and Cory Allen and it lengthened further after the news that Liam Williams, who picked up a foot injury against Australia will not be able to take any further part in the tournament. Eli Walker has been called up into the squad, but George North is likely to slot into the right wing spot.
In contrast to their opponents, South Africa are likely to be at full strength for this game as their only casualties, lock Victor Matfield and prop JP Pietersen are expected to recover in time. Eben Etzebeth and Lodewijk de Jager have filled in well for Matfield, but assuming he is fit, he will come straight into the starting fifteen.
Head to Head
South Africa’s dominance of this fixture has been almost total since they first played Wales in 1906. The Springboks have won 27 of their 30 meetings and prior to last year’s autumn internationals, hadn’t lost to Wales this century, a run of 16 consecutive victories.
Wales have only beaten South Africa twice. Their first win came at the Millennium Stadium in June 1999 and their second was last November at the same venue, when four penalties from Leigh Halfpenny gave them a 12-6 success.
Wales’ victory over South Africa last autumn ended a run of six years without a win against a major southern hemisphere side but I think they will fall short of a repeat on Saturday. At full strength, they could match the Springboks, but they are significantly weakened by injury and are up against a full-strength South African side that has improved steadily since their opening match. Still, we can expect Warren Gatland’s side to show their usual battling qualities and to keep the score respectable.
Back Wales +8 in the Match Handicap market at EVS.
And don’t forget, if you have a bet in the first tryscorer market, Boylesports will give you your money back as a free bet if the first try of the game is unconverted.
*Prices correct at time of publication.