Wales eye Boks scalp

Coach Meyer makes eight changes to SA team that beat Italy

Weekend Witness - - Cla Ssifieds - DAN BIG GAR

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.

PHOTO: G ALLO IMA GES

Prop T endai ‘Be ast’ Mta warira will s tart t oday’s T est ag ainst W ales in Car diff.

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