The last International Rugby test of the year will see Wales take on South Africa in Cardiff, with both teams looking for a win to properly set up their 2018 campaign.
Wales was far from impressive so far in the Autumn Internationals, starting with an 8 point loss to Australia, following that up with a 7 point win against Georgia (where they used the reserves), and finally losing 18-33 last week against New Zealand. Coming after a Six Nations tournament in which they finished 5th earlier in the year, the Welsh are clearly not in their best moment right now. They seemed to have stagnated, while other teams improved.
South Africa has had mixed results so far in 2017, but overall there has been clear proof of improvement – at least compared to their dreadful 2016. Nevertheless, the Springboks are inconsistent, and that has been visible in the Autumn Internationals as well. The Boks were humiliated 38-3 by Ireland in the first test, only to bounce back with a 1 point win in France and a 29 point win in Italy. Even so, coach Alister Coetzee is expected to be sacked at the end of the year, so morale in the locker room can`t be good.Bet on Wales v South Africa and claim your 100% (100 Eur) bonus at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups:
Both teams will miss a few important players, but no team should be hurt more than the other by the absences. Wales will make 5 changes to last week`s starting lineup, and so will South Africa.
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Hallam Amos, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rob Evans
South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Warrick Gelant, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
While Alister Coetzee will hope that a South African win will save his job, fact is that this match is mostly just an opportunity for the Springboks to cash in some extra money. That`s not to say they won`t put up their best fight, but they have had a long season and this will be their 4th match in 4 weeks in the Northern Hemisphere, so legs will probably be tired, and so will the mind.
Wales themselves had 4 matches in the last 4 weeks and are coming after a clash with New Zealand, which always takes a lot from you. However, they play at home, and most importantly their season has just started – while South Africa has played a ton of rugby in the last few months, including the Rugby Championship. Wales also had the luxury of resting every one of their main players when they hosted Georgia two weeks ago.
South Africa has been a better team than Wales this season and in the Autumn Internationals, but the Boks are not in front by much, and their efforts have often been overrated (like when beating a tired and shorthanded French side three times in June). You also can`t rule out a below par performance from the Boks, who have been very inconsistent all year. No longer than four weeks ago they lost by 35 points in Ireland. They had now played two pretty good games in a row vs France and Italy, and a letdown could very well happen, particularly at the end of a grueling season.
With fresher legs and playing at home in front of a crazy crowd, the Welsh should have enough to fight for the win here. They are desperate for a victory after a poor year, and they remain very dangerous at home. They actually played pretty good rugby last week against New Zealand, and were in the game until the All Blacks delivered the killer blow in the final 10 minutes.
Look for a lot of physical play and place kicking, while penalties are expected to be the main form of scoring. Wales have the luxury of having Halfpenny in their ranks, who can accurately kick from 60 meters out, so that could be key in such a match.
It should be a tight one, as it has always been the case between Wales and South Africa in the last three years – except when Wales dominated the Boks for a 27-13 at the same venue and at the same time last year.
Some bookies have the point spread line at 3.5 points, some have it at 4.5 points, both in favor of South Africa. I`ll go in between, so my tip is Wales to cover the 4 point (asian) handicap. They should have more energy in Cardiff, which is always a key argument in any match analysis. Prediction: Wales – South Africa 24 – 22.