South Africa’s Springboks come into their final test match of three against Wales on Saturday knowing only a win will do at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town.
Coach Jacques Nienaber and Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, still exiled from the stadium never mind water boy duties following his British & Irish Lions faux pas, came under heavy criticism after the national side opened the door to the tourists in Bloemfontein last weekend.
Wholesale changes left a squad inexperienced at international level unable to cling on against the tourists in the Free State.
Gareth Anscombe’s nerveless touchline conversion after a dramatic late try from fellow replacement Josh Adams tipped the scales in favour of the Welsh, as they pilfered a 13-12 victory.
It felt like payback for the first test a fortnight ago, where it was the Boks who snatched the spoils at Loftus Versfeld.
Nienaber has donned his flak jacket and alluded to a grand plan in response to the doubters ahead of their World Cup defence next year, which has no little merit given the similar experimentation with Erasmus at the helm ahead of their glorious success in Japan.
Less palatable, or defensible, was the style of stolid, clunky rugby not helped by a raft of faces unfamiliar with each other.
In any case 11 starting changes are the order of the day for the decider in the shadow of Table Mountain.
They include a 100th test cap for one-man army Eben Etzebeth and a 50th for his fellow World Cup winner, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, who celebrate their respective landmarks in the city where they made their sporting names.
Homegrown Western Province heroes Damian Willemse and Cheslin Kolbe are both restored to the backline, too, which can’t possibly have anything to do with the backing of a 50 000-strong, partisan Capetonian crowd.
Wales make just the one change, in stark contrast to their hosts.
Coach Wayne Pivac has hailed last week’s try-scorer Adams from the bench for a starting place on the wing, while George North is set to break the Welsh test appearance record as he brings up his 105th cap.
South Africa vs Wales: Teams, predictions and kick off time
South Africa Starting XV: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Elrigh Louw, 22 Francois de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux.
Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Owen Watkin.
Kick off time is at 17:05 South African time, which is GMT +2.
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision.
|Chance of winning (%)||Points margin|