South Africa v Wales: Wayne Pivac's side aim to make history in Cape Town decider

3 weeks ago 345
Final Test has 'added pressure' for Springboks - Pivac
Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town Date: Saturday, 16 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 face South Africa in a Test series decider that would have seemed inconceivable just four months ago.

After losing at home to Italy in the final game of this year's Six Nations, Wayne Pivac's side were written off against the world champions, but a second Test victory - the first for a Wales men's side over the Springboks in South Africa - has set up a winner-takes-all clash.

Most were anticipating a 3-0 South Africa series triumph but Wales have made a mockery of pre-tour predictions, bouncing back in Bloemfontein after losing a first-Test thriller 32-29 with South Africa dropping two places in the world rankings.

Wales are now hoping to become the first of the nations that make up the British and Irish Lions to win a series in South Africa, with Ireland, Scotland and England never having managed the feat.

The Lions managed one series victory in 1997 while France have won two in South Africa.

Team news

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has recalled eight of the Springboks' 2019 World Cup-winning team for Saturday's Test series decider against Wales.

After making 14 changes for the second Test, when Wales claimed a first victory on South African soil, Nienaber has reverted to a tried and tested formula with 10 personnel changes.

Only fly-half Handre Pollard, scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse, prop Trevor Nyakane, lock Eben Etzebeth - who wins his 100th cap - and flanker Pieter-Steph Du Toit remain from Bloemfontein last weekend.

Eleven of Saturday's line-up in Cape Town started when South Africa beat England to be crowned world champions three years ago, although Faf de Klerk drops to the bench.

Wales captain Dan Biggar has recovered from a shoulder injury and will start.

Biggar went off early in the second half of Wales' 13-12 second Test victory last weekend and was replaced by Gareth Anscombe, who kicked the winning conversion.

In another boost for Pivac, prop Dillon Lewis has shaken off an elbow injury.

The one change from the Bloemfontein success sees wing Josh Adams replace Alex Cuthbert, who has has flown home due to a shoulder problem.

Pivac has been able to select the team that started the first Test 12 days ago when Wales were beaten 32-29 by a late Damian Willemse penalty in Pretoria.

Centre George North will become the most capped back in Wales men's international rugby history, making his 105th appearance and moving above Stephen Jones.

View from both camps

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber: "Wales have shown over the years and in the last two matches that they are real fighters, and it will require a top-class performance from us on Saturday to register a victory and ultimately clinch the series.

"We pointed out from the outset of the series that Wales will be desperate - and they showed that in the last two weeks.

"We are expecting another hard grind against them, and the fact that they will be playing for their first series victory ever in South Africa will make them even more desperate to push us to the limit this weekend, so we know it will be an epic battle.

"That said, we are also playing in what is essentially a final for us, and we know that we need to pitch up on the day and deliver a quality 80-minute performance to emerge victorious."

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac: "It would mean the world to the team to win a series in South Africa. They've worked very hard to get into this position.

"We're very pleased to come into this week with something to play for, which in the past hasn't happened. For us, it's about getting it right mentally now.

Biggar 'ready' for decisive Springboks Test

"It's been three big, hard weeks. It's a massive Test match, we know that, but to be in the race is very pleasing.

"I'm really happy that the guys have got this opportunity. Now it is a matter of going out there and doing the game justice."

Head to head

Wales finally beat the Springboks in South Africa at a 12th attempt in Bloemfontein.

South Africa dominate the 39 past matches between the two nations with 31 victories, seven 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: Damian Willemse; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Jaden Hendrikse; Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Elrigh Louw, Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux.

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

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

Match officials

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)

Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)

TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia).

Source Article