South Africa v Wales: Wayne Pivac's side aim to keep series alive in Bloemfontein

4 weeks ago 352
'We don't know what's coming' - Pivac
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein Date: Saturday, 9 July Kick-off: 16:05 BST
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio Wales Extra - available via BBC Sounds, 882 MW and BBC Sport Online, Radio Cymru plus live text and match report on the BBC Sport website

Wales and world champions South Africa look set for a titanic second Test encounter in Bloemfontein.

The Springboks won a thrilling series opener 32-29 last weekend, though Wales were only beaten by the game's final kick, a Damian Willemse penalty.

Wales were left kicking themselves at Loftus Versfeld, missing a golden chance to beat South Africa for the first time on home soil after leading 18-3 at half-time.

Ultimately they were let down by poor discipline, having four players sin-binned by Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli and giving away more than double the penalties conceded by the Springboks.

Wales must remain on the right side of Australian official Angus Gardner in Bloemfontein, otherwise it could prove another frustrating afternoon.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac readily acknowledges it is an area that requires significant improvement during what should be another high-octane occasion.

Team news

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber sparked controversy when he announced his team for Bloemfontein because there were 14 changes in the starting side and 19 alterations in the matchday 23.

Wales great Sir Gareth Edwards has been among the critics of South Africa's selection approach, believing that it disrespects the tourists, who themselves insist this not a B team.

Only lock Eben Etzebeth remains from Nienaber's starting side in the first Test, while two uncapped players will start this week, Bulls wing Kurt-Lee Arendse and Stormers number eight Evan Roos.

Four other uncapped players, scrum-half Grant Williams, prop Ntuthuko Mchunu, lock Ruan Nortje and flanker Deon Fourie, are among the replacements.

There are recalls for Harlequins centre Andre Esterhuizen and Bulls flanker Marcell Coetzee, while 2019 World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit returns from injury.

In contrast, Wales have made one starting change with wing Alex Cuthbert replacing Josh Adams, who drops to the replacements' bench alongside uncapped Saracens prop Sam Wainwright.

Both sides will be captained by fly-halves with Dan Biggar up against Handre Pollard. Between them, they have played 164 Tests and scored almost 1200 international points.

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View from both camps

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber: "A lot of people expected Wales to be a rollover, based on their performances in the Six Nations.

"Like I said last week, the only thing we can do is look at the reality. They lost their last five Test matches now, but there was a [single] score [margin] in all of those Test matches.

"It's big games and big teams that they have played and it could have gone either way.

"It is going to be the challenge for our debutants and they know it and we believe they are good enough to handle that."

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac: "South Africa have depth and quality throughout their squad, and they have experience in this team.

"We do know the team we will be coming up against will be full of enthusiasm. When you give rugby players an opportunity, most of the time they will take it with both hands.

"We are expecting a South Africa side full of ambition, full of intensity, and we know that they will be coming with one thing in mind and that is to win a Test match.

"It is a matter of focusing on what we can bring to the game, and hopefully that is going to be a lot more discipline than last week, because we let ourselves down clearly in that area of the game."

Head to head

Wales have never beaten the Springboks in South Africa, losing all 11 previous encounters.

South Africa dominate the 38 past matches between the two nations with 31 victories, six Wales wins and a draw in 1970.

After Wales celebrated a first victory over the Springboks in 1999 - in the opening match at the then Millennium Stadium - South Africa won 16 successive home and away games between 2000 and 2014.

The balance then tilted slightly, with the Springboks losing on four Cardiff visits before winning at the Principality Stadium in November 2021 in the last meeting between the two sides.

South Africa have triumphed in the recent crucial matches, beating Wales in the quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup at Twickenham and inflicting a 2019 semi-final defeat on the way to being crowned world champions in Japan.

Line-ups

South Africa: Warrick Gelant; Kurt Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi; Handre Pollard (c) Jaden Henrikse; Thomas du Toit, Joseph Dweba, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Marvin Orie, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Evan Roos,

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Vincent Koch, Ruan Nortje, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie, Grant Williams, Damian Willemse.

Wales: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North,Nick Tompkins, Alex Cuthbert; Dan Biggar (c), Kieran Hardy; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dillon Lewis, Will Rowlands, Dan Lydiate, Tommy Reffell, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Dewi Lake, Wyn Jones, Sam Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Josh Adams.

Match officials

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Andrea Piardi (Italy)

TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia).

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