Rugby

Wales v Springboks — Can the Boks End on a High?

Wales v Springboks

Can the Springboks salvage some pride from their final game of their end-of-year tour?

The Springboks have one last shot to try and redeem an inkling of pride from an otherwise lacklustre season when they take on Wales at Principality Stadium on Saturday.

While Allister Coetzee has been somewhat stubborn with his selections throughout the 2016 calender, the Springbok coach has rung in some changes – but it the time for new combinations too late?

Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Jamba Ulengo and Uzair Cassiem will make their Springbok debuts, while a fourth uncapped player, Jean-Luc du Preez, has been included on the bench for the final Outgoing Tour encounter.

Strongly-built inside centre Janse van Rensburg, who takes over from Damian de Allende in a rotational switch, and winger Ulengo, who is in for Bryan Habana, are part of a reshuffled backline.

Both Janse van Rensburg and Ulengo played for South Africa in the international match against the Barbarians three weeks ago at Wembley Stadium in London, but will now become officially capped Springboks.

Cassiem, who didn’t feature against the Baabaas, will also get his Test debut after Willem Alberts was ruled out because of a neck niggle.

A new-look backline also sees the return of Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf) and Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) as halfback combination, while there is a further change at fullback, with Johan Goosen named to start in the No 15 jersey.

In the other change upfront, Lourens Adriaanse comes in at tighthead in place of Vincent Koch, which means that 14 players who will be based in South Africa for Vodacom Super Rugby in 2017 will start against Wales, with a further seven on the bench.

Coetzee said the revamped side was picked as result of a combination of factors. Apart from rotational changes and injuries, some of the selections were made with the building process towards 2019 in mind. The total amount of caps amongst the backs are 40, the lowest amount since 1994.

“We have a less experienced team, but I want to see some energy and an improved performance. Our selection is also keeping in mind of the process and necessity to build towards 2019,” said Coetzee.

“Uzair was impressive during our domestic competitions and he was man of the match in the Currie Cup final. He made a good impression during the build-up to the Barbarians match and has continued to work hard on this tour since re-joining us.

“Jamba, Uzair and Rohan are examples of players who have forced their way into the squad through consistently performing well on the domestic scene and during training on tour, and now they are getting their opportunities to play for the Boks. Even though Damian played well against England and Italy we felt Rohan deserved an opportunity.

Regarding the change in the front row, the coach added: “Lourens played well whenever he was selected and he too deserves his opportunity.”

Regarding the challenge of facing Wales at home in front of a passionate crowd of 75,000 at the Principality Stadium, Coetzee said he expects another huge battle between the two sides.

“Recent matches between us have always delivered close fought battles and small point margins and I expect more of the same on Saturday,” said Coetzee.

Regarding the Welsh changes, Dan Lydiate comes into the side at blindside flanker in place of Sam Warburton who picked up an injury in training on Tuesday.

There are two further changes amongst the replacements with Taulupe Faleatu returning from injury to take his place on the bench, alongside Ospreys fly-half Sam Davies.

Gethin Jenkins, who has led Wales in every match he has started this campaign, will lead the side and lines up in a front row alongside Ken Owens and Tomas Francis.

Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones are named in the second row with Lydiate lining up alongside Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty in the back row.

Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar are once against named at half-back with Scarlets duo Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies in the midfield.

The same back-three that faced Argentina is named with Leigh Halfpenny at full-back and George North and Liam Williams on the wings.

“We were pleased with the win against Argentina so have gone with virtually the same team for South Africa,” said head coach Rob Howley.

“We’ve made just one change in the back-row. Sam (Warburton) picked up a bit of a stinger injury on Tuesday and isn’t quite ready so Dan comes in. Dan played particularly well against Japan so we are pleased he gets the opportunity again.

“It’s good to have Taulupe back in the squad, he will add a good impact from the bench. We are delighted with Sam, he showed individual composure and accuracy last weekend and he gets another opportunity on the bench, as he did against Australia.

“There is the tinge of disappointment in terms of performance against Japan and we want to put that right. Not only are we looking to win this weekend we want a performance to go with it.”

On the bench, Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith and Samson Lee make up the front-row replacements. Cory Hill will look to win his third cap this weekend and is joined by Faleatu who completes the forward line-up. Lloyd Williams, Davies and Jamie Roberts provide the backline cover.

Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Subs: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Jamie Roberts.

Springboks – 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe.

Prediction: A more promising-looking Springbok backline could provide some new motivation and excitement, and Wales didn’t look too complete against Japan last week, but the Dragons will likely have the edge over South Africa. Wales by 3.

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