RUSS Petty (@RPetty80) shares his expert opinion on South Africa’s crunch quarter-final tussle with Wales on Saturday afternoon.
South Africa v Wales | Saturday 16.00 | ITV1
There are a number of factors against Wales for this quarter-final. Their already horrendous injury list was increased with the loss of Liam Williams and they have reached a point where the injury replacements themselves aren’t fit.
South Africa’s last match was against the USA on 7 October, which has provided plenty the Springboks plenty of time to prepare. Wales, on the other hand, had a tough battle with Australia last weekend.
Pool winners have traditionally won in this round against runners-up (22 of 28 times), though South Africa will be well aware that it isn’t a given, having lost their quarter-final in 2011 despite topping the group.
Since Warren Gatland took charge, Wales have lost 27 of 29 games against the Southern Hemisphere trio of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with nine losses from 10 matches against the Springboks by an average score of 20-28.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has been delivering the message this week that the Japan defeat forced his team to react positively for the rest of the pool matches. It is also true though, they faced Scotland and USA teams without their key players and a Samoa side that imploded after conceding an early intercept try.
Closing out matches has been a problem for South Africa over the last year and they’ve outscored opponents after the break in only seven of their previous 18 matches. Meyer has blamed inexperience for that, but due to injury, will go into this match with locks aged 22 and 23 and a midfield aged 21, 23 and 21.
Even with the long injury list, Wales are going to be a resilient opponent with a coach known for his ability to prepare teams for ‘big’ games and players with experience of winning such matches. They did fail to break down the Australian defence last weekend (even when it was down by two men) but they were also the first team in 18 games to stop the Wallabies from scoring a try.
In their previous three games against the big Southern Hemisphere teams it has been 3-3 at half-time against both New Zealand and South Africa last year and 6-9 last week against Australia. Bar the nightmare Argentina loss in Durban when they conceded 27 points in the first-half, the Boks have tended to be tough to score against before the break recently – allowing an average of six points in the other 11 games since last November.
Under 19.5 points in the first half between two such physical, direct teams seems reasonable and it would have covered in the previous eight World Cup quarter-finals and can be taken at 4/5 with Bet365. South Africa to win by 1-12 points is also worth a shot at 13/8 with Coral.
South Africa v Wales – South Africa to win by 1-12 points (13/8 Coral)
South Africa v Wales – Under 19.5 first-half points (4/5 Bet365)
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