MX23RW : Monday, February 26 23:48:43| >> :600:270998:270998:
friendly | International Rugby Union
Aug 19, 2023 at 3.15pm UK
South Africa
Parry (72')
Marx (4'), Moodie (22', 61'), Kriel (35', 52'), du Toit (59'), Willemse (69')

Preview: Wales vs. South Africa - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's friendly clash between Wales and South Africa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

As final preparations for the upcoming Rugby World Cup continue, the reigning world champions South Africa will head to Cardiff this week to take on Wales at the Principality Stadium in a World Cup warm-up match on Saturday.

The hosts come into this match following a narrow loss against England at Twickenham last week, while the visitors put in a solid performance to claim a victory against Los Pumas in Buenos Aires.

Match preview

Wales' George North scores their second try on August 5, 2023© Reuters

Welsh rugby has endured a difficult period over the last 12 to 18 months, but with steady progress being made with their issues surrounding player contracts behind the scenes, performances on the field have begun to improve as well.

Warren Gatland's side were well below their best in the Six Nations competition earlier this year, finishing in fifth place for the second consecutive year and managing only one win in the competition over wooden spoon recipients Italy.

However, with several first-team players returning to the fray, Wales bounced back very well in their first World Cup warm-up match at this venue, where they beat England 20-9 at the start of the month.

Last week at Twickenham, they started fairly slowly but worked their way back into the match after Owen Farrell was sent off and had a 17-16 lead heading into the final 10 minutes but were unable to hold on as George Ford stuck away a late penalty.

Wales's undoubted strength in their last two matches was their pack, especially the front three, who bulldozed the English at times, and it will be intriguing to see how they fare against the hard-hitting Springboks in this one.

South Africa's Kurt-Lee Arendse celebrates scoring their third try with Cobus Reinach on July 8, 2023© Reuters

Meanwhile, the world champions come into this encounter carrying mixed form over the last couple of months, and based on recent performances, they will only be able to defend their crown in France next month if they can find improvements quickly.

At the 2023 Rugby Championship earlier this year, the Springboks began with a thumping 43-12 victory over a struggling Wallabies side but proved no match for the mighty All Blacks, losing 35-20 in Christchurch a week later.

They then took on Argentina and were the out-and-out favourites to secure a big win at Ellis Park Stadium on the final weekend of the competition but only managed a one-point victory against the fast-finishing Pumas.

Arguably, their erratic performances stem from the wholesale changes that Jacques Nienaber had made over those matches, but they did look more settled last week as they overcame the Pumas 24-13 in Buenos Aires.

Still, they look some way from being able to challenge the likes of New Zealand and Ireland just at this moment, though they will be bolstered by the return of a few big-name players, who could help fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle before they head to France in a couple of weeks.

Wales form (all competitions):

  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

South Africa form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Gatland announced two enforced changes to the matchday 23 that played in England last week, with Dan Biggar and Liam Williams both ruled out with a back and hamstring injury, respectively.

Cai Evans has received a call-up and will make his debut at fullback, while Sam Costelow will start in the number 10 jersey, and Tom Rogers comes onto the bench.

Dewi Lake led the Dragons against England last week but was withdrawn in the first half of that match with a knee injury which means that Jac Morgan will take on the captaincy role in this one.

Meanwhile, Nienaber has announced 11 changes to the Springbok side that beat Argentina last week, and headlining the changes is returning captain Siya Kolisi, who missed the Rugby Championship through injury.

Ox Nche and Jaden Hendrikse have been handed their first call-ups of the year, while Canan Moodie, Manie Libbok, Jean Kleyn and Jasper Wiese are the only four players that have been retained from last week's starting 15.

Wales starting lineup: 15. Cai Evans, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. Mason Grady, 12. Johhny Williams, 11. Rio Dyer, 10. Sam Costelow, 9. Kieran Hardy, 8. Aaron Wainwright, 7. Jac Morgan (c), 6. Dan Lydiate; 5. Will Rowlands, 4. Ben Carter, 3. Keiron Assiratti, 2. Elliot Dee, 1. Corey Domachowski

Replacements: 16. Sam Parry, 17. Nicky Smith, 18. Henry Thomas, 19. Teddy Williams, 20. Taine Basham, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Max Llewelyn 23. Tom Rogers

South Africa starting lineup: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Canan Moodie, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Manie Libbok, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 8. Jasper Wiese, 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Siya Kolisi (c), 5. RG Snyman, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Ox Nche, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Marco van Staden, 21. Duane Vermeulen, 22. Grant Williams, 23. Damian Willemse

Head To Head

Since 1906, South Africa and Wales have engaged in 40 rugby union clashes. Over the course of those 40 matches, South Africa emerged victorious in 32 encounters, while Wales secured seven wins, and one match ended in a draw.

SM words green background

We say: Wales 21-27 South Africa

While the Springboks are still some way from their best, they are starting to look much more settled and are expected to keep improving. They were impressive against Argentina last week, and we expect that with key players returning to the fray, they will secure a victory in this one.

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Siya Kolisi pictured on October 27, 2019
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