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Wales can match any side for resolve but Springboks’ ruthlessness will prove decisive

16 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Wales can match any side for resolve but Springboks’ ruthlessness will prove decisive

While Wales nurse their key players back to health, South Africa's experienced heads can further underline their importance on Saturday

Given the decimation of their team through injury, it is no surprise that Wales do not currently possess the same unstoppable force that has come to characterise their power game in recent years.

Even so, it was their inability to overcome the immovable object that was the Australian defence last Saturday that means they must now take on another two-time champion in South Africa in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Having failed to break down the Wallabies – who survived seven minutes on their own try line with just 13 men – the prospect of facing a rejuvenated Springbok side with an equally-boundless steely resolve is probably not an appealing prospect for Warren Gatland’s depleted squad.  

Since losing to Japan on the opening weekend, South Africa have returned to what they know by trusting in a combination of experienced heads and powerful youngsters to bring back a game plan that is based on keeping it tight and wearing down the opposition.

It is certainly a tactic with the capacity to nullify the supposed strengths that are meant to set Northern Hemisphere teams apart – proven by the fact that they have won 13 of their last 15 matches against Six Nations sides.

The Springboks boast an even more formidable record against Wales in particular, having won 15 of the last 16 – although that sole defeat did come in the most recent meeting when Leigh Halfpenny’s boot helped to earn a 12-6 win.

Dan Biggar, his replacement on the kicking tee, has been equally impressive with a success rate of nearly 94 per cent – and having kicked all of Wales’ points against Australia last weekend is 5/2 to do so again on Saturday.

If history is anything to go by then it is likely to be close, with just one match between the two sides since November 2008 being decided by more than a single-figure margin – with South Africa 9/2 to prevail by 6-10 points this time around.

That run included a one-point win for the Springboks in the pool stages of the previous tournament – a result which continued Wales’ undesirable record of never having beaten one of the Southern Hemisphere superpowers at a World Cup this century.

Yet South Africa have always been made to work hard for those wins, having only led at half-time in one of their last eight games on their way to seven victories against Wales – who are priced at 11/2 to be ahead at the break before eventually succumbing to South Africa’s superior stamina.

Although the majority of play will no doubt take place up front, it is out wide where South Africa can really hurt Wales – with twice-capped Tyler Morgan being asked to plug the gap in midfield.

His opposite number, Jesse Kriel, has been superb so far and the Springbok centre 13/5 to score at any time.

Bryan Habana, meanwhile, knows that each game now could be his last as he seeks to take for himself the all-time record World Cup try scorer title he currently shares with Jonah Lomu.

The 32-year-old winger has registered five of his 15 tries at this year’s tournament and is 8/5 to make history on Saturday by scoring at any time.

In a game that is likely to be characterised by sheer brute force and physicality, the guile and finishing ability of the experienced operator could turn out to be the difference.

For as Wales learned the hard way last weekend, guts and determination can only carry a team so far.

South Africa v Wales match betting

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