Preview: South Africa v Samoa

30th Sep 2011, 06:35

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Fotuali'i: Key figure for Samoa

Fotuali'i: Key figure for Samoa

Samoa have it all to play for as they face off against South Africa in their final Pool D clash in Auckland on Friday.

Samoa have it all to play for as they face off against South Africa in their final Pool D clash in Auckland on Friday.

While South Africa need just one point to ensure they make it through to the quarter-finals regardless of other results, Samoa need a full house of points if they are to have a good chance of progressing. Even five points may not be enough. However, if Wales lose to Fiji even one point may be sufficient.

Currently sitting on ten points, should Samoa move onto fifteen points they will qualify if Wales lose and fail to pick up a bonus point or win without a bonus point. Should both teams finish on level points, the Six Nations outfit will reach the last eight due to the fact that they were victorious when the two teams met earlier in the tournament.

Having never beaten South Africa, the Samoans certainly have their work cut out for them but the Islanders have shown enough in the World Cup to suggest that a win is not completely out of the question.

While typically expected to play a one-dimensional, power centred game, the Samoan's game plan has been a lot more structured of late.

The team have demonstrated more patience and have been more disciplined, beginning to dispel the myth that they can't tackle without going in high or shoulder first.

Crucially, their set pieces have also been solid, and this is an area where they'll have to be strong against the South Africans; if the forwards can't provide a good platform then Titimaea Tafua's men will not be able to compete.

Tafua has made two personnel and one positional switch for the game. Winger Sailosi Tagicakibau drops out of the squad due to a calf injury and he is replaced out wide by David Lemi. In the midfield, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu comes in at inside centre with Seilala Mapusua moving one over to thirteen and George Pisi dropping to the bench.

The Samoans' improved showing at scrum time has not gone unnoticed with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers admitting that he was surprised by their demolition of Fiji up front.

"The one thing that stood out in that game was how good Samoa were at scrum time," noted de Villiers. "They annihilated the Fiji scrums. So that's a bit of bother for us."

De Villiers has strengthened his front row by bringing in Bismarck du Plessis - regarded by many as one of the best number twos in the world - at hooker. He replaces skipper John Smit who drops to the bench. Du Plessis is joined by his brother Jannie and Tendai Mtawarira to form an all-Sharks front row.

Elsewhere in the pack, the injured Bakkies Botha makes way for Victor Matfield who takes over the leadership of the side. On the flank, Heinrich Brüssow comes in for Willem Alberts.

There are two changes in the back-line, with wing JP PIetersen and scrum-half Fourie du Preez coming in for Gio Aplon and Francois Hougaard respectively.

De Villiers' selections make for interesting reading in the sense that he has erred from his usual path by selecting Du Plessis ahead of Smit but failed to make a complete turn in that he retained experienced - yet out of form - heads the likes of Du Preez and Bryan Habana.

After a poor start to the tournament, the Springboks appear to have grown stronger and stronger with each game and will be looking to make a definite statement of their title-winning abilities against Samoa.

Ones to watch:

For Samoa:

Having spent four years playing Super Rugby for the Crusaders, Kahn Fotuali'i has come up against the majority of the Springbok players on a number of occasions. With Fourie Du Preez not his usual self at the moment, Fotuali'i will feel that if he can add extra pressure on the number nine, Samoa will go a long way to disrupting the Springboks' rhythm.

For South Africa:

Despite Jean de Villiers' return to fitness, Francois Steyn has retained his spot at inside centre. The Racing Metro man has starred both in defence and in attack for the Springboks and deserves his place. However, De Villiers will not let the number twelve jersey go without a fight and Steyn will need another assured performance to retain his spot for the quarter-finals.

Head-to-head:

The battle at the set pieces could be where the game is won or lost for Samoa. They proved against Fiji that their scrum cannot be taken lightly and they'll need a repeat performance against the Boks. But it's not only the scrum that needs to work like a well oiled machine, but also the line-outs; quick, clean first-phase ball will be of paramount importance. Conversely, the Springboks will feel that with Victor Matfield back in the second row, line-outs are there for the taking.

Previous results:

2007: South Africa won 59 - 7 in Paris
2007: South Africa won 35-8 in Johannesburg
2003: South Africa won 60-10 in Brisbane
2002: South Africa won 60-18 in Pretoria 42-14
1995: South Africa won 42-14 in Johannesburg
1995: South Africa won 60-8 in Johannesburg

Prediction:

Samoa have made good strides of late and will certainly give the Springboks an incredibly hard run. However, the South Africans have the edge and will see off the pressure to win by 12!

Rugby World Cup betting odds

The teams:

Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 David Lemi, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 George Stowers, 7 Maurie Faasavalu, 6 Taiasina Tuifua, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (c), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Logovi'i Mulipola, 19 Ofisa Treviranus, 20 Filipo Lavea Levi, 21 Junior Poluleuligaga, 22 George Pisi.

South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie Du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Jannie Du Plessis, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Jean De Villiers.

Date: Friday, September 30
Kick-off: 20:30 (07:30 GMT)
Venue: North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Nigel Owens.