Wales eye Boks scalp
Coach Meyer makes eight changes to SA team that beat Italy
CARDIFF — W ales will seek t o end a sixyear wait for a southern hemisphere scalp when they take on South Africa today with one eye very much fixed on next year’s World Cup.
The last Welsh victory over a Sanzar nation was a 2118 win over Australia in November 2008, c oach W arren G atland’s sole winning performance against either the Wallabies, Springboks or All Blacks in 2 7 mat ches sinc e he t ook charge in 200 7.
South Africa will not, h owever, b e a rollover, having notched up the y ear’s sole defeat of New Zealand and also having only ever lost to Wales once in 2 9 clashes.
It pr omises t o be a humding er of a Test match at Cardiff ’s Millennium Stadium, where Wales went down 3416 to the All Blacks last weekend after leading with 12 minut es t o pla y.
“We were obviously disappointed last week,” said W ales fl yhalf D an Big gar. “We f elt lik e w e w ere in with a r eal chance aft er 6 8 minutes, but w e let it slip at the end.
“It’s all about mo ving f orward now. We’ve put it t o bed and it’ s all about focusing on this week and making sure we put on a good performance and more importantly g etting the win. ”
Biggar, as Gatland had also stressed, insisted ther e w as not an under lying concern o ver fitne ss le vels.
“I think our fitness has been good. We put quite a big shift in on Saturday night pushing one of the be st side s in the world all the way,” the Ospreys playmaker said.
“We’re concentrating now on finishing the autumn serie s on a high. ”
“I think our fitne ss has been good. W e put quit e a big shif t in on Satur day night pushing one o f the be st side s in the world all the w ay.”
The las t time South Africa pla yed Wales, the home side came b ack from deficits of 170 and 3017 to triumph 3130 in N elspruit.
“We kno w our r ecord ag ainst the Southern Hemisphere isn’t great,” Biggar admitted. “In the summer we played a pretty complete game up until the last few minut es and then w e let it slip .
“We can take a lot from that performance and hopefully we can push on and get the result on Saturday because that’s all that mat ters.”
Gatland has made thr ee enf orced changes to his runon team, Liam Williams not ably c oming in f or injur ed Northampton wing er Geor ge North.
Veteran pr op Gethin J enkins and hooker Sc ott B aldwin t ake o ver fr om Paul James and Richar d Hibb ard, who have returned to club duty with Bath and Gloucester r espectively since t oday’s match f alls out side the int ernational Test windo w.
South Africa c oach H eyneke Meyer has made eight changes to his team from the one that beat It aly 226 las t weekend.
Prop Tendai Mtawarira, hooker Bismarck du Ple ssis, fullb ack W illie le Roux, and wing duo C ornal Hendricks and Lwazi Mvovo will all s tart.
The changes in the b ack thr ee were required because Johan Goosen (Racing Metro), Bryan Habana (Toulon) and JP Pietersen (P anasonic W ild Knight s), who started against the Azzurri, are not available, while the t wo changes to the front r ow ar e r otational.
“We will f ace a fir edup Welsh side this w eekend. T hey pla yed v ery w ell against N ew Z ealand and it will be a tough end t o our season,” said M eyer, whose team opened their November series with a 2915 defeat by Ireland before beating England 31 28.
“But we want to finish on a high and the focus this week has been on ensuring we keep on building on what we’ve done thus f ar this y ear.”
For G atland, the clash ag ainst the Springboks will be W ales’s las t bef ore next y ear’s World C up in England, in which the Welsh have been drawn in a pool that include s the hos ts, Australia, and F iji.
Wales opened their November series with a 3328 defeat by the Wallabies before an e xperimental side scr aped past Fiji 1 713, and the c oach was under no illusions of the value of playing the best teams in the w orld.
“The autumn [series] is not a competition, it’s about using it to play against the be st t eams in the w orld who have come off really strong campaigns to prepare pot entially f or the Six N ations, which is our competition, and the World Cup,” he said.
“What we’re going to be judg ed on is our perf ormance in the W orld Cup and our w hole f ocus is on g etting out of that pool in the W orld Cup.
“That’s been the w hole emphasis of this campaign and it’ll be the same with the Six N ations.” — S apaAFP.
Leigh Halfpenny; Ale x Cuthbert , Jonathan Davies, Jamie R oberts, Liam Williams; Dan Bigg ar, Rhys W ebb; T aulupe F aletau, Sam W arburton (capt), Dan L ydiate; Alun W yn Jone s, Jak e Ball; Samson L ee, Sc ott Baldwin, Ge thin Jenkins
Emyr Phillip s, Aar on Jarvis, Rhodri Jone s, Luk e Chart eris, Jame s King, Mik e Phillips, Rhy s P riestland, Sc ott Williams
Willie le R oux; C ornal Hendrick s, Jan Serf ontein, Jean de Villier s ( capt), L wazi Mv ovo; P at Lambie , C obus R einach; Duane V ermeulen, Teboho Mohoje , Mar cell C oetzee; Vict or Matfield, Eben E tzebeth; C oenie Oo sthuizen, Bismar ck du Plessis, T endai Mt awarira
A driaan S trauss, T revor Ny akane, Julian R edelinghuys, L ood de Jag er, Niz aam Carr , Francois Houg aard, Handré P ollard, Damian de Allende John Lac ey (IRL ) 4. 30 pm.
Prop T endai ‘Be ast’ Mta warira will s tart t oday’s T est ag ainst W ales in Car diff.