Planet Rugby

Preview: South Africa v Wales

20th June 2014 10:14

Share:

Duane Vermeulen SA v Wales June 2014

Duane Vermeulen: Vital player for the Boks

South Africa head into Saturday's Test against Wales in Nelspruit brimming with confidence after an impressive display in Durban last weekend.

The Boks were in a rampant mood, especially during the first half when they dominated their opponents for large periods.

But Wales are a proud rugby nation who delivered a better performance in the second half and they will look to bounce back this weekend by building on the way they finished in Durban.

It's a momentous game for Springbok captain Victor Matfield, who will break his country's appearance record - he shares with John Smit - when he runs out for the 112th time in green and gold.

The man who is regarded by many as the game's best-ever line-out exponent is joined in the second row by Bulls team-mate Flip van der Merwe while Beast Mtawarira comes into the front row alongside fellow Sharks Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis for the 13th time - one game short of the record held -by Smit, Os du Randt and Eddie Andrews.

A big part of the Boks' success in Durban - and their first Test of the season against the World XV in Cape Town - was the performance of their back row.

Number eight Duane Vermeulen as well as flankers Willem Alberts and Francois Louw had a field day with ball in hand but were also prepared to graft, especially on defence and in the loose.

Full-back Willie le Roux played a near-perfect Test and inside centre Jan Serfontein will also be satisified, after impressing in his first start at this level but a player who will look for an improved effort is Serfontein's midfield partner JP Pietersen.

The Sharks stalwart has played most of his rugby on the wing and is still finding his feet as a Test centre. He held his own against Wales' British and Irish Lions' duo of Jamie roberts and Jonathan Davies but will look to improve - particularly on attack - this weekend.

Unlike previous seasons under coach Heyneke Meyer there has not been signs of rustiness in the Boks' opening Tests and they have hit the ground running.

Meyer, however, is not getting carried away and wants more from his troops and believes beating Wales will set them off in the right direction.

"What we've achieved up to now is great, but we still want to improve," he said .

"I think we are on the right track, but again we always want to stay humble and there are areas that we want to improve."

Meyer praised his team but wants 2014 to be even better than 2013 when they lost just two matches - to New Zealand - in the entire year.

"Don't take it the wrong way, we scored almost four tries per game last year and that was against the best teams in the world, and it was home and away," Meyer said.

"We won eight matches on the trot away from home, we scored three against Wales away from home and they didn't score any tries, two tries were disallowed against France otherwise it was four tries.

"But there are always high hopes from the people and expectations from the Boks."

After being comprehensively outplayed in most departments, the visitors will be motivated by the fact that they are yet to experience a win against the Springboks on South African soil.

But claiming that elusive win is no easy task and if one considers that Warren Gatland's charges are on this tour minus stalwarts like regular skipper Sam Warburton, fellow tearaway Justin Tipuric, and ace full-back and first-choice goal-kicker Leigh Halfpenny then it's unlikely that that record will change this weekend.

This will be the second time a Test will be played at the Mbombela Stadium after the Springboks beat Scotland here last year.

On that day, the playing surface took a pounding after Samoa and Italy played in the match before, while the sticky and heavy pitch slowed down the pace.

That should not be an issue this time around and the 3pm kick-off could also play into the Springboks' hands as the heat could further tire the Welsh down.

But despite that and last weeks defeat, Gatland said there were positives they could take from the match and called for greater continuity from his charges.

"We've got to be prepared in the first 20 to 30 minutes when South Africa do come at you," he said.

"We're really happy with the way we started the game and the way we created opportunities early on and took three points but we then just switched off."

Springbok full-back Willie le Roux ran amok in last weekend's match where he had a hand in all five of South Africa's tries.

It didn't help the visitors' cause that they also conceded 14 points during Roberts spell in the sin bin for an illegal challenge on le roux.

"Willie le Roux caused us some problems - our line speed was way down on what it should be, so we've given them ball," explained Gatland.

"It was difficult when we were down to 14 men, we weren't coming down the line aggressive enough, which was difficult for the tighties (tight forwards) going from defensive ruck to defensive ruck."

Several experienced Wales players delivered less than satisfactory performances in Durban and must improve if the 2011 World Cup semi-finalists want to stand a chance of turning the tables on their host.

Senior players like captain Alun Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips will be expected to lead from the front while inexperienced team-mates like Josh Turnbull and Samson Lee will be determined to make the most of their opportunities in the run-on side.

Players to watch:

For South Africa: Big number eight Duane Vermeulen will be highly motivated as he returns to his hometown for the first time in Springbok colours. Vermeulen is difficult to stop, once he builds up a head of steam with ball in hand, and doesn't shy from the physical aspects of the game, especially on defence. Despite his size, the Stormers stalwart is also adept at the breakdowns and don't be surprised if he poaches some of Wales' balls at the rucks.

For Wales: After playing second fiddle to Jan Serfontein last weekend, Jamie Roberts will be out to prove a point this weekend. The hard running Racing Metro midfielder is expected to get Wales over the advantage line and after an ineffective display in that department, and a yellow card, in Durban he will be out to redeem himself with a solid performance.

Head-to-head: After a disappointing display in Durban, Wales' veteran prop Adam Jones has been replaced by run-on debutant Samson Lee, who faces off in the scrums against Beast Mtawarira. 21-year-old Lee is a strong scrummager whose task of anchoring the visitors' set-piece will be severly test by Mtawarira, who knows all the tricks in the book after representing his country in 54 Tests.

Previous Results:
2014: South Africa won 38-16 in Durban
2013: South Africa won 25-14 in Cardiff
2011: South Africa won 17-16 in Wellington
2010: South Africa won 29-25 in Cardiff
2010: South Africa won 34-31 in Cardiff
2008: South Africa won 20-15 in Cardiff
2008: South Africa won 37-21 in Pretoria
2008: South Africa won 43-17 in Bloemfontein
2007: South Africa won 34-12 in Cardiff
2005: South Africa won 33-16 in Cardiff

Prediction: The Boks are on a high and will be keen to build on last weekend's result. Wales will be better but it won't be enough. South Africa to win by 10 points!

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Wynand Olivier, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Paul James, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 James Hook, 23 Matthew Morgan

Date: Saturday, June 21
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 BST, 13:00 GMT)
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Francesco Pastrana (Argentina)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Assessor: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Preview
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London WelshSale vs London Welsh Preview
London Irish vs SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Preview
Harlequins vs WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Preview
Bath vs LeicesterBath vs Leicester Preview
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs ZebreMunster vs Zebre Preview
Cardiff Blues vs UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Preview
Connacht vs LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Preview
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets vs Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs ToulonBrive vs Toulon Preview
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse14:45
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Preview
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs PumasLions vs Pumas Preview
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26