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South Africa v Tonga - teams and prediction

ROUND FOUR PREVIEW: South Africa won’t admit it, but they are already casting one eye towards a potential World Cup quarterfinal face-off with hosts France.


First they must get past a tricky Tongan team in Marseille on Sunday.

They #MUST win, the #MUST get a bonus point and improving their points differential is another important aspect.

Finishing the pool stages on 15 points will almost certainly book their place in the play-offs.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said they will be looking for an ‘improved’ performance from last week’s loss.

“Let’s take the result out of the way,” Nienaber told @rugby365com, when asked about their goals for Sunday’s Marseille outing.

“We all know that we need to get a win and a bonus point.


“Net points will also come into play.

“So let’s park the result.”

He admitted there are certain things that they have to rectify – aspects of their game that they couldn’t get right in last week’s (8-13) loss to Ireland.

“From a technical and a tactical point of view, there are things that we have to get right.”


“Internally there are definitely things we are focusing on.

“If we do get the opportunity to go into a quarterfinal, if we don’t fix those aspects we won’t last much longer in the tournament.”

He added that they will also look to ‘tweak’ their tactics.

“In terms of our game plan, there are definitely some things that we will try a little bit differently in this game to see if it works,” he told @rugby365com.

“Strategically – on attack, in defence and our kicking game we will try some different things.”

(Jacques Nienaber previews South Africa versus Tonga …)

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Tongan coach Toutai Kefu and his team have very different goals, even though they will always list a ‘win’ as one of them.

“These are the games that get me out of bed,” said Kefu, who was named Tongan coach in 2016.

“You always want to test yourself against the best in the world.

“We’ve done that regularly so far and we’ve enjoyed the occasion.”

Kefu, a World Cup winner with Australia in 199, admitted his team will require significant improvement in certain aspects of their game if they are to break their World Cup 2023 duck.

“Holding onto the ball and putting sustained pressure on the opposition team is one of those,” said the man who has 60 caps for the Wallabies and has led the ‘Ikale Tahi to two previous World Cups.

“”We didn’t throw any punches when we played Ireland.

“They put us under enormous amount of pressure, and rightly so – they’re a very good team.

“We turned the ball over 30 times in that game, our line-out was working at 50 percent.

“I think in the second half we didn’t enter into their 22 once.

“So we just weren’t able to put any pressure on them.

“We got some looks in the second game, but still a huge amount of turnovers [and] our line-out still a work in progress.

“However, we’re getting better, that’s a positive.

“We’re hoping third up, so to speak, we’re going to put our best foot forward.”

He admitted the tournament has been a disappointment so far, but said there being some bright spots.

“I suppose from a results point of view, it’s been disappointing so far.

“It’s certainly not the way we looked at it to turn out, 60 points by Ireland [a 16-59 loss] and then 40-odd points by Scotland [17-45 loss].

“We certainly don’t think Ireland are a 60-point better team than us.

“I just thought we gave away too many turnovers, penalties, we didn’t get to fire any shots.

“In that respect, really disappointing.”

(Continue below …)

South Africa versus Tonga

Captain Ben Tameifuna said the Springboks’ loss to Ireland shows that the best in the world can be beaten.

“They like to run straight and more direct than Ireland and Scotland who tend to move the ball a bit more,” Tameifuna said.

“I haven’t played [Eben] Etzebeth and them in a while, since he was at Toulon, but it will be good to clash once again with the current best in the world.

“That’s the best way you can test yourself as a player.

“They’re big boys. They’ve been together longer, they tend to build their chemistry around the scrum.

“The teams they’ve played against so far, they’ve done a job on them. They’re the best in the world for a reason.”

Players to watch

For South Africa: The focus has certainly been on the return of flyhalf Handre Pollard from injury. It is Pollard’s first Bok appearance since playing against Australia in Adelaide in August last year. Siya Kolisi will captain his country for a 50th time – another significant milestone in an illustrious career. Eben Etzebeth and Jasper Wiese are retained for the must-win clash that will be crucial in determining which two teams from Pool B advance to the quarterfinals, and who they will play in the top-eight play-offs. Pollard partners Cobus Reinach at halfback, while Andre Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie pair up in midfield. Willie le Roux starts at fullback with Makazole Mapimpi and Grant Williams named on the wings. Up front, Deon Fourie will earn his first start in the Springbok jersey at hooker in a front row alongside props Ox Nche and Vincent Koch, while Etzebeth and Marvin Orie pack down in the second row.

For Tonga: Kefu made three changes to the starting line-up. Semisi Paea starts at No.8 in place of the suspended Vaea Fifita, following his four-match ban for a high tackle. Anzelo Tuitavuki will make his World Cup debut on the left wing, with Fine Inisi starting on the right in the two other changes. All Blacks Charles Piutau (fullback), Malakai Fekitoa (outside centre) and Augustine Pulu (scrumhalf) all start, while Wallaby forward Adam Coleman is named on the bench. Ben Tameifuna skippers the side from tighthead prop.

Head to head



@rugby365com: South Africa by 35 points



South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Grant Williams, 13 Canan Moodie, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (Captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Marco van Staden, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Manie Libbok

Tonga: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Fine Inisi, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Anzelo Tuitavuki, 10 William Havili, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Semisi Paea, 7 Sione Talitui, 6 Tanginoa Halaifonua, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Halaleva Fifita, 3 Ben Tameifuna (captain), 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Replacements: 16 Sam Moli, 17 Tau Koloamatangi, 18 Sosefo Apikotoa, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Patrick Pellegrini, 23 Afusipa Taumoepeau.

Date: Sunday, October 1
Venue: Stade de Marseille, Marseille
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 21.00 SAST; October 2, 08.00 TOT)
Expected weather: Mostly sunny and warm. High of 27°C, sitting at 22°C by kick-off.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)


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