European Bok Tour Watch – Week 4

It’s the final game of the season for Rassie Erasmus and his Springboks and probably the most important game of their European Tour.

Since 2013 the Springboks have locked horns with Wales across 8 matches and the scores read 4-all. The Boks have an 82% success rate against the Red Dragons but have struggled against the men in in red in recent times. In fact, the Springboks last beat the Welsh in the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter-final and have since lost 3 consecutive matches.

Can Rassie and his new-found Boks change the tide and get back to winning ways against what is slowly but surely becoming their bogey team in world rugby?

Saturday 24 November 2018 – Wales v Springboks, Principality Stadium @ 19h20

Warren Gatland and his charges will be keen to claim a second Bok scalp in one year as these two teams meet for the second time in 2018. They last met in June at the RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. and the Boks came up short after a double charge down from the boot of Robert du Preez jnr. cost them in what was Rassie Erasmus’ first match as Bok Coach. The men in green and gold will be desperate to fix that in a match that has been hailed by the Bok mentor as the biggest match of the tour.

On that rainy day in Washington the Boks fielded one their most inexperienced teams ever with 13 debut caps being handed out as Erasmus started his tenure with the Springboks.

Much has changed since that day and many of those debutants are now more experienced and have helped the Boks achieve great milestones over the last six months. Only 3 of those debutants are however plying this weekend. Embrose Papier, Thomas du Toit and Ivan van Zyl have received the nod from Coach Rassie in what will be a true test of fire for especially the two scrumhalves.

Papier gave a good showing when he started his first match for the Boks against Scotland and was key to one of the best tries the team have scored as unit this year when Jesse Kriel crossed the whitewash for the 3rd time this year. With one game left, Jesse is 2 shy of his 2017 try-count of 5 and last year he scored against Wales so watch this space.

Wales who are bidding for a ninth consecutive win started the week with the news of Leigh Halfpenny not being available for selection after his injury against Australia at the start of the European Test period. Apart from Halfpenny not being available, Gatland reverted back to his team that beat the Wallabies a few weeks back, opting against the 14 changes he made against Tonga.

One thing the Boks will be aware of is the strength of this Welsh team even without Halfpenny and will have to put in a full 80 minute performance if they want to come out tops and close out a better year than the previous 2 years.

PREDICTION: Springboks by 8

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