This has been a bruising European tour for the Springboks, but they have shown tremendous resilience in bouncing back from a narrow defeat in their opening game to record back to back wins.
Wales versus Springboks Preview and Prediction
This weekend, they conclude their northern hemisphere trip with another tough fixture, this time in Cardiff against Wales, as two old rivals compete for the Prince William Cup.
South Africa and Wales first met in Swansea on December 1, 1906. The Springboks prevailed 11-0 on that occasion, and won ten of the next eleven games against Wales, with one draw: a period stretching from 1912 to 1998, including a 96-13 thrashing in the summer of that year in Pretoria.
Wales beat South Africa for the first time in June 1999, winning 29-19 at the Millennium Stadium, but that proved to be another false dawn for the Welsh, as they lost the next 16 consecutive matches against the Springboks, including the quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup.
Altogether, South Africa have a commanding 28-5 record against Wales, although that dominance has come under threat in recent years. Wales have won their last three encounters, at the Millennium Stadium in 2016 and 2017, as well as a friendly this summer in Washington DC.
Last Ten Meetings
June 2018 Wales won 22-20 Washington DC
December 2017 Wales won 24-22 Cardiff
November 2016 Wales won 27-13 Cardiff
October 2015 South Africa won 23-19 London
November 2014 Wales won 12-6 Cardiff
June 2014 South Africa won 31-30 Nelspruit
June 2014 South Africa won 38-16 Durban
November 2013 South Africa won 24-15 Cardiff
September 2011 South Africa won 17-16 Wellington
November 2010 South Africa won 29-15 Cardiff
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Wales had a shaky start to their 2018 Six Nations campaign, losing to England and Ireland, but they finished strong with wins over Italy and France and they’ve continued that form throughout the year. After beating a makeshift South Africa side in a summer friendly in the USA, they won both Tests in a brief tour of Argentina, and returned home to record consecutive victories over Scotland and Australia, then warmed up for their Springboks rematch by thrashing Tonga 74-24.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Rassie Erasmus’ new look South African team, but there have been two recurring themes throughout his tenure so far: considerable resilience and overall improvement. A home series win over England was a good start, and that was followed by a stunning victory in Wellington to seal second place in the Rugby Championship. Although a weakened Springboks side lost narrowly to England in the opening international of their northern hemisphere tour, they battled hard to edge out France in Paris, then saw off a determined Scotland side 26-20 in Edinburgh.
Wales will have to manage without their star full-back and kicking ace Leigh Halfpenny, who has still not fully recovered from a concussion sustained in a late tackle by Samu Kerevi in the victory over Australia. Coach Warren Gatland will have a tough decision to make over his replacement. Gareth Anscombe played well at fly-half against Scotland and Australia, but he may be asked to shift to full-back with Dan Biggar taking the number ten shirt again. Another option is for wing Liam Williams, who was in sparkling form against Tonga, to switch to 15 for this game.
Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has confirmed that there will be no experimenting with the line-up at the Millennium Stadium as South Africa aim to finish their international year strongly. They will be without Faf de Klerk for this game as he has been released to play for Sale Sharks, so Embrose Papier, who played well against Scotland, could play at scrum-half although Ivan van Zyl is another option. They will also be able to call on the services of Siya Kolisi, after the team captain was cleared of headbutting a Scotland player during last weekend’s game.
Wales are the bookmakers’ favourite going into this game, and given their form this year, that’s probably reasonable, but there are reasons for optimism for South Africa fans.
Edinburgh, Twickenham and Cardiff in November may be a far cry from home conditions for this Springboks squad, but they’ve adjusted admirably, falling back on a powerful pack and a willingness to fight to the last second, qualities that have enabled them to emerge with two wins out of three.
They will need to call on every ounce of that resilience this weekend at a raucous Millennium Stadium against one of the northern hemisphere’s toughest opponents, but they have the pack to match their opponents and the absence of Halfpenny takes away one of Wales’ main attacking threats. This should be another close game, but the Springboks can edge it to finish their tour on a high.
Back South Africa to win at 11/10
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Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.
15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith
Substitutes: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Owen Watkin
15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe