Best Bet 1: Dubai 7s – South Africa to win @ $2.00 – Sportsbet
WALES ($2.59) VS SOUTH AFRICA ($1.50)
The final Test match on the 2017 International calendar takes place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night between Wales and South Africa. New Zealand continued their dominance over Wales with a hard-fought 33-18 victory last weekend in Cardiff, whereas, the Springboks steamrolled Italy (35-6) to avenge their loss to the Azzurri in 2016. Wales don’t have the best record against South Africa, but they will take confidence having won the last two fixtures in Cardiff. Given that this match falls outside of the International Test match window, a number of European-based players are unavailable for selection for both teams.
Wales: Rob Evans, Kristian Dacey, Scott Andrews, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn-Jones (captain), Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi, Toby Faletau, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Steff Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos, Leigh Halfpenny
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Rhodri Jones, Seb Davies, Dan Lydiate, Rhys Webb, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin
South Africa: Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Wilco Louw, Eben Etzebeth (captain), Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Dan du Preez, Ross Cronje, Handre Pollard, Warrick Gelant, Francois Venter, Jesse Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Andries Coetzee
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Ruan Dreyer, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem, Louis Schreuder, Elton Jantjies, Lukhanyo Am
Wales really challenged New Zealand last week in a physical and confrontational encounter. They probably just lacked the polish that will come with time as the All Blacks capitalised on a couple of errors to outpoint the home team. The front row of Tom Francis, Ken Owens and Rob Evans were impressive and a presence all across the park, with flanker Josh Navidi the standout in the forwards for me. All members of the back line, barring the injured Rhys Webb, can hold their heads up high and showed that they don’t look out of place at Test level.
The Springboks match vs Italy was played in miserable conditions in Padova and even though they lost the territory (38%) and posession (43%) battle, the still managed to run in five tries on the back of a dominant effort up front. South Africa’s defence was solid making 93% of their tackles and their discipline was the best of the season, conceding just four penalties. Their scrum was powerful and the line-out was stable, which allowed Handre Pollard to dictate proceedings from fly half in his best game for South Africa for some time.
Looking ahead to this match, Wales will be without a number of key players including Tom Francis (prop), Jake Ball (lock), Justin Tipuric (flanker), Rhys Priestland (flyhalf), Owen Williams (centre), Jamie Roberts (centre), Liam Williams (outside back). South Africa can’t call upon Franco Mostert (lock), Francois Louw (flanker) and Duane Vermuelen (number eight) and Tendai Mtwawira is injured. Its a shame because there are some talented players in that pool and the match will be robbed of a lot of class, but at the end of the day, money talks. This is a match that either team could win because they have both shown glimpses of what they are capable of this season, albeit in small patches. A win for the Springboks would be a positive end to a poor season, whereas, a Welsh win would position them nicely heading into the RBS 6 Nations in February. Wales are missing an abundance of props so South Africa will target the impressive Rob Evans up front who will be shouldering the load. Although it is the Springboks last match of a long season, I think the disruptions to the Welsh team might catch them a little bit off the pace and I suspect the Springboks will grind out a narrow victory. I say this with very little confidence though.
Predicted result: South Africa to win @ $1.50 – Sportsbet