Home Sport Victory over Wales will suffice, but …

Victory over Wales will suffice, but …

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Springbok centre Jesse Kriel said they were looking to avoid a repeat of their pre-season loss to the Stormers. Photo: BackpagePix

… The Springboks have a bigger incentive at Cardiff

THE CHERRY on the cake for the Springboks should they break their eight-year drought in Cardiff with a win over Wales on Saturday would be the recapturing of the No.1 spot on the World Rugby rankings, and this will happen if they win by a comfortable margin.

The All Blacks leapfrogged the Boks to the top of the rankings last weekend when they beat Wales 54-16, with the Boks inactive, and while the Kiwis are certain to beat Italy on Saturday, their points tally won’t change – they lead South Africa by a slender 0.26 points – but if the Boks win by at least 16 points (worth 0.31 points on the rankings), they can regain the top spot they held for nearly two years.

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But a win by 15 or fewer points by Siya Kolisi’s men will garner them just 0.21 points, leaving them a tantalisingly 0.02 points behind the All Blacks.

If the truth were to be told, the world rankings will not have been weighing too heavily on the minds of the South Africans in Cardiff this week – a win will suffice, however it comes, just so long as the run of four consecutive defeats to the Welshmen in Cardiff comes to an abrupt end.

In general, Wales have become a thorn in the side of the Boks in recent years, winning five of the last seven games played between the countries. It is true that the Springboks won the one that mattered the most — the World Cup semi-final in Japan two years ago — but the five losses since 2014 are irksome to the Boks.

One of the newcomers to the starting line-up, wing Jesse Kriel, played in the losses in Cardiff of 2017 and 2018 and he told the media that it is time the drought was broken.

“They were both close Tests and it was a different Wales coaching staff back then (Warren Gatland was in charge) and they had a very simple game plan that they executed really well,” Kriel said.

“We just didn’t handle it as well as we should have in those two games, but it is obviously something that we are aware of and it’s something we have worked hard on fixing.

“We have also come a long way as a team,” Kriel added with understatement given the Boks’ achievements since Rassie Erasmus replaced Allister Coetzee.

“It’s great that the whole squad has been kept together and we have this continuity.

“Everyone is very excited about this next chapter. It’s not going to be easy. It will be a massive Test match – it is always a grind against Wales – but one we have every reason to believe we can win. Obviously, we want to hit the ground running and kick the tour off with a win.”

LINE-UPS

South Africa (15-1): Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Herschel Jantjies, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (capt), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench (16-23): Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn

Wales (15-1): Johnny McNicholl, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonathan Davies (captain), Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Ellis Jenkins, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre. Bench (16-23): Bradley Roberts, Wyn Jones, WillGriff John, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams

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