Preview: Wales v South Africa
NOVEMBER INTERNATIONALS: Hundred-and-twelve after they first met, Wales and South Africa meet again – this time in Cardiff at the posh Millennium Stadium.
For much of the 112 years South Africa dominated matches between the two, but there has been a big momentum shift. Starting in 2014, Wales have won four of the last five matches, not big wins but wins nonetheless.
Those wins have been enough to contribute to Wales’s rise to third place on World Rugby’s rankings – topped only by New Zealand and Ireland.
They are above England, South Africa (fifth), Australia, Scotland, France and Argentina.
The match presents desirable opportunities – Wales to consolidate, South Africa to go up higher.
A look at this year’s results tells clearly that South Africa will have its work cut out.
Wales have played 11 matches this year, winning nine and losing just two.
South Africa have played 13, winning seven and losing six.
Wales have decidedly better results.
They have won their last eight matches, South Africa their last two.
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Results against Common Opponents
Argentina: Wales won 23-10 & 30-12; South Africa won 34-21 & lost 19-32
Australia: Wales won 9-6; South Africa lost 30-32 & won 23-12
England: Wales lost 6-12; South Africa won 42-39 & 23-12 and lost 10-25
France: Wales won 14-13; South Africa won 29-26
Scotland: Wales won 34-7 & 21-10; South Africa won 26-20
Again, Wales’s results are a bit better, but it probably signifies a close encounter.
Wales have a well-balanced side – a strong pack with good line-out work and post-tackle competition.
But the Springboks probably scrum better and carry with greater force.
Wales have excellent backs with speed, strength and skill.
They look more threatening and accomplished than their opponents.
Players to Watch
For Wales: Jonathan Davies – despite being ranked just seventh on the RugbyPass Index for outside centres – is strong, carries and lets play well and is a strong defender. He has competitive steel. Powerful George North, despite only being #26 on the RPI right wing rankings, the tough robber of tackles Justin Tipuric (#14 on the RPI openside rankings) and clever flyhalf, the New Zealander Gareth Anscombe who has many strings to his bow and would like to prove he is better than his ninth-place on the RPI for No.10s.
For South Africa: Willie le Roux (only 29th on the fullback RPI) is a man capable of the extremes of creativity and gross error, but more capable than all others of turning a match on its head. Amongst the forwards, there are Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco Mostert, both big men of relentless energy and determination. And at the back is big, strong, fearless Duane Vermeulen – who would like to prove he is better that the ninth position he holds among No.8s on the RugbyPass Index. There are two parts to the Springbok team – those who start and those who come on from the bench to lift the tempo in the second half. The South African bench looks more impressive.
Head to Head: Hadleigh Parkes versus Damien de Allende, both big, strong and aggressive. De Allende has been having a good tour this year. Flyhalf versus Flyhalf, Gareth Anscombe versus Handré Pollard, both keen to run with the ball, both with the skills to let others play. Anscombe appears sharper than Pollard, Pollard stronger than Anscombe. Goal-kickers: Wales will undoubtedly miss Leigh Halfpenny, though Anscombe is accurate though perhaps without Pollard’s distance. Scrumhalf versus Scrumhalf, Gareth Davies versus Embrose Papier. Davies is seven years older at 28 and has 35 caps to Papier’s six. Davies is also more of a runner with the ball than Papier is but on his first Test start it would seem that Papier more than makes up for it with a quick, accurate pass, and on one occasion when he backed up cleverly he had a good run as part of a try. Alun Wyn Jones versus Franco Mostert. Jones plays with the same passion as his sings Land of our Fathers while Mostert is more of the silent assassin, both good line-out forwards.
2018: Wales won 22-20, Washington
2017: Wales won 24-22, Cardiff
2016: Wales won 27-13, Cardiff
2015: South Africa won 23-19, London (World Cup quarterfinal)
2014: Wales won 12-6, Cardiff
2014: South Africa won 31-30, Nelspruit
2014: South Africa won 38-16, Durban
2013: South Africa won 24-15, Cardiff
2011: South Africa won 17-16, Wellington (World Cup pool match)
2010: South Africa won 29-25, Cardiff
@rugby365com Prediction: A close, tense encounter where one chance taken could bring victory, one chance not taken defeat. Our prediction would be for another two-pointer, again with South Africa taking the victory.
Wales: 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.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Owen Watkin.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Rudolf Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.
Date: Saturday, November 24
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 17.20 (19.20 SA time; 17.20 GMT)
Expected weather: Rain and cold with high of 8°C and a low of 5°C, though under the stadium’s closed roof there should be no affecting climate.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
By Paul Dobson
RugbyPass has created a next generation rugby rating system, based on machine learning and shaped by game winning moments. The system (RPI) is a world first for its complexity and comprehensive embrace of northern and southern hemisphere players and teams. By using in-depth data analysis, RPI determines exactly what it takes to win, in real time. Explore the RPI now!