MX23RW : Wednesday, July 24 12:18:03| >> :600:858318:858318:
friendly | International Rugby Union
Jun 22, 2024 at 2pm UK
South Africa
Kriel (4'), Mapimpi (15'), Mbonambi (42'), van der Merwe (69')
Lake (30')

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

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

World Cup champions South Africa will get their 2024 season underway this weekend when they take on Wales at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the Springboks set to face Ireland following this one-off Test and Wales travelling to Australia, the match offers both teams a chance to shake off the cobwebs before the July internationals.

Match preview

South Africa's Siya Kolisi lifts The Webb Ellis Cup as they celebrate winning the World Cup final on October 28, 2023© Reuters

The back-to-back Rugby World Cup champions are set to return to action for the first time since lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy in dramatic fashion at Stade de France last year.

However, they will do so without their master tactician Jacques Nienaber, who announced his departure during their World Cup campaign, with Rassie Erasmus now in the hot seat as the first team head coach.

Erasmus will now face his old foe Warren Gatland in his first game in charge, having been Nienaber's lieutenant when the Springboks won each of their World Cup knockout games against England, France and New Zealand by a single point each.

The new boss has already faced one significant setback, as he will have to navigate this, as well as his side's clash with Ireland next month, without the Bulls players, who will be competing in the United Rugby Championship final on the same day as this encounter.

When these sides met prior to the World Cup, the Springboks romped to a decisive 52-16 victory in Cardiff, although it is worth noting that four of the previous six matches between the sides were decided by five or fewer points.

Wales' Dillon Lewis and Alex Mann react on March 16, 2024© Reuters

Meanwhile, Wales are in a rebuilding phase, but they have had a full Six Nations campaign to start laying the foundation and will be expecting improvement since that competition.

While they came close to beating both Scotland and England, losing narrowly by scores of 27-26 and 16-14 respectively, their Championship ended on the worst possible note with a 24-21 home defeat to Italy, which condemned them to the wooden spoon for the first time in two decades.

The last time the Dragons tasted victory was when they beat Georgia in the World Cup group stage before they went on to lose all five matches in the Northern Hemisphere showpiece earlier this year.

Wales have also faced selection problems, as their England-based club players are unavailable to play against the Springboks due to the match falling outside World Rugby's international window. That list includes Christ Tshiunza, Tommy Reffell, Nick Tompkins, Archie Griffin, Josh Hathaway and Dillon Lewis.

For Gatland's side to have a realistic shot at causing an upset here, they will need to at least limit the damage in the scrums, though that could be a major difficulty given their recent struggles in the set-piece and the loss of Henry Thomas to injury.

South Africa form (all competitions):

  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Wales form (all competitions):

  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L

Team News

Flanker Jac Morgan has been sidelined from Wales' summer tour due to a hamstring injury, while uncapped Cardiff scrum-half Ellis Bevan has been included in the starting lineup for this match.

The Dragons duo of Ben Carter and Matthew Screech will start as locks, while Eddie James, James Ratti, and Jacob Beetham are poised to earn their first caps from the replacements bench.

There are intriguing match-ups throughout both starting 15s, but none more enticing than the battle in the front row where Malcolm Marx and Dewi Lake return from injuries to reclaim their starting roles.

Evan Roos, who last played for the Springboks in the team's Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Argentina last August, will earn his sixth Test cap and he will form an exciting loose trio alongside World Cup winners Kwagga Smith and Springbok captain Pieter-Steph du Toit.

South Africa have named four debutants in their travelling squad, including Jordan Hendrikse and Edwill van der Merwe, who make the starting lineup, while Ben-Jason Dixon and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu feature on the bench.

South Africa starting lineup: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (c), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Ox Nche

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 23 Damian de Allende

Wales starting lineup: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Mason Grady, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 James Botham, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Gareth Thomas

Replacements: 16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Harri O'Connor, 19 James Ratti, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Eddie James, 23 Jacob Beetham

SM words green background

We say: South Africa 32-13 Wales

While Wales thrive in the role of underdog, they face the monumental task of trying to take down the four-time world champions here, and their recent form does little to inspire confidence in their chances of pulling off an upset.

The Springboks, while not at full strength should still have more than enough firepower to secure victory in this match.

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