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 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Castres vs BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Preview
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Preview
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Preview
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Preview
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
Thursday , September 4
Otago vs Canterbury19:35
Friday , September 5
Tasman vs Waikato18:05
Northland vs Hawkes Bay20:05
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00