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South Africa vs Wales 1st Test Preview

Written by @QuintenLetcher for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!


South Africa vs Wales | Saturday 14 June | Kings Park | 17:05

savswales1sttestintroThe Springboks finally kick of their 2014 Test season with the opening clash of a two-match series against the Red Dragons, taking place down in Durban this Saturday. Heyneke Meyer’s charges got off to a worryingly slow start last week against Nick Mallett’s World XV, with the ill-prepared visitors getting the better of the Bok scrum for much of the first half, leaving the Springboks with a feeble 18-13 lead at the break. The Boks managed to turn the tide in the second half thanks to a near impermeable defence and their setting up of a few effective mauls from the lineouts, ultimately outscoring their star-studded opponents six tries to one by the time the final siren sounded.

The Welsh kicked off their South African tour last week with a friendly against the Southern Kings down in Port Elizabeth, coming away with a comprehensive 22-point victory, although, having gone in as 45-point favourites, Warren Gatland may be a bit concerned ahead of their clash with the second best side in the world. Wales looked impressive at home throughout this season’s Six Nations, finishing off with a 51-3 hammering of Scotland, but they found absolutely no favours on the road with telling defeats to Ireland and England. They pushed the Springboks closer than expected at the Millennium Stadium in November last year, but have only tasted victory over the two-time World Champs once, all the way back in 1999.

savswales1sttest1To Win (80mins)
South Africa 1/8
Wales 6/1
Draw 30/1

Handicaps
South Africa (-13.5) 9/10
Wales (+13.5) 9/10

South Africa
The Springboks had their boat rocked recently by the untimely and contentious withdrawal of Frans Steyn from the Test series. His absence provides a start for the young Bulls centre Jan Serfontein, who will team up with the elusive JP Pietersen in the midfield. Cornal Hendricks earns his first Test start after an impressive showing in Cape Town last week, while Fourie du Preez is preferred at scrumhalf over Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar, who falls to the reserve bench for Saturdays’ clash.  Up front Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira drops out of the run-on side, allowing Gurthro Steenkamp to start in his 50th Test appearance. Victor Matfield, captaining the Springboks for the eighteenth time, equals John Smit’s record 111 Test appearances.

Wales
savswales1sttest2Head coach Warren Gatland has named an experienced match-day 23 for Saturday’s clash, with reserves Gareth Davies and Matthew Morgan being the only uncapped players among them. 22-year-old Welsh prodigy George North has recovered from a virus in time to pick up his 41st appearance for his country. Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar continue their half-back partnership, while giant Jamie Roberts teams up with Jonathan Davies in the midfield. Up front the unruly-haired Adam Jones collects his 100th Test cap, joined in the front row by fellow centurion Gethin Jenkins, picking up a record 106th appearance for Wales.

VERDICT: Wales (+13.5) 9/10
Wales have named a powerful side for the opening clash and could take advantage of a somewhat experimental Springbok midfield and the ancient second-row combination of pensioners Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield. The visitors are unlikely to pick up their first win on South African soil, but they could go close.

Think we’ve got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this is going to play out.

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