Wales seek South Africa’s scalp to end autumn on a high

Wales v South Africa: Fourth autumn Test important for WRU finances - Warren Gatland
Autumn internationals: Wales v South Africa
Venue: Principality Stadium Date: Saturday, 2 December Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, Connected TVs, online and BBC Sport app; listen on BBC Radio 5 live, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Wales will seek to avoid a third successive loss to southern hemisphere opposition when they face South Africa in Saturday's final Test of the autumn.

Injury-ravaged Wales lost 29-21 to Australia, struggled past Georgia then lost 33-18 to a weary New Zealand.

Only eight players who faced the Wallabies will take on the Springboks.

"It has been hard. I think we've had 11 injuries in this campaign. We are down to about 25 from the original squad selected," said coach Warren Gatland.

The Springboks were hammered 38-3 by Ireland in their opening autumn match, but have bounced back with a narrow win over France and comfortable defeat of Italy.

Captain Eben Etzebeth is calling on his team to rally at the end of their long season, and says they will target Wales' new-look front five, where Wales have lost three tight-head props.

"We want one last big 80 minutes from everyone and they all know that's expected of them," said the lock.

"We always look to our scrum as a weapon. We're a set-piece team - we like scrummaging, we like the line-outs, we like the mauling battle.

"Whoever's playing for them we're always going to go for them at scrums, maul and line-outs."

Missing key players

Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau has been made available by his club Bath despite the game being outside the Test window

British and Irish Lions Sam Warburton, George North and Ross Moriarty were all unavailable for Wales' autumn series with long-term problems, while Jonathan Davies, Justin Tipuric and Ken Owens have all picked up injuries during the Tests.

Key forwards Jake Ball, Samson Lee and Leon Brown - both tight-head props - plus scrum-half Gareth Davies have added to the lengthy casualty list.

Gatland is also without several players based at English clubs as the game is being played outside World Rugby's international window.

Lions full-back Liam Williams missed last week's loss to the All Blacks with an abdominal injury but would have returned to his English club Saracens regardless for Saturday's game.

Jamie Roberts - yet another Lion - and fellow centre Owen Williams, plus tight-head Tomas Francis and fly-half Rhys Priestland have returned to their English clubs this weekend.

In the back-row, Taulupe Faletau is available despite being based in England, although his club side Bath face being fined by Premiership Rugby for releasing the number eight.

NZ-born centre Parkes on 'privilege' of Wales debut

Long-term plans

At the start of November, Gatland said the autumn Tests were the start of a two-year cycle to peak at the 2019 World Cup.

The 54-year-old has begun to adopt a more expansive style, trying to recreate the one that served him well as Lions coach in last summer's drawn series in his native New Zealand.

Robin McBryde on why Wales should avoid set-pieces v Springboks

"We left some reasonably experienced players out of the squad right from the start, and there was a chance to develop some more depth in the squad," Gatland added.

"If we are in this situation, come the World Cup, then we have got players with caps and experience under their belts. I think that's important for us going forward."

Gatland's fellow Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes will win a first cap in a game being played on the very day the Scarlets centre qualifies for his adopted country through three years of residency.

There has also been a second chance for some fringe players to show that they can force their way back into a full-strength Wales squad for a major tournament.

A case in point is prop Scott Andrews, the 28-year-old tight-head who Cardiff Blues were happy to allow to go to Bath on loan this season but starts against South Africa to win his 14th cap - playing his first international for a year.

Wales: Halfpenny; Amos, S Williams, Parkes, S Evans; Biggar, A Davies; R Evans, Dacey, Andrews, Hill, A W Jones (capt), Shingler, Navidi, Faletau.

Replacements: Dee, W Jones, R Jones, S Davies, Lydiate, Webb, Patchell, Watkin.

South Africa: Coetzee; Leyds, Kriel, Venter, Gelant; Pollard, Cronje; Kitshoff, Marx, Louw, Etzebeth (capt), De Jager, Kolisi, Du Toit, Du Preez.

Replacements: Mbonambi, Nyakane, Dreyer, Mohoje, Cassiem, Schreuder, Jantjies, Am.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France).

Assistants: Wayne Barnes (England) and Frank Murphy (Ireland).

TMO: Rowan Kitt (England).

Source: BBC Rugby Union News

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By adamreeves / Administrator, bbp_keymaster on Dec 01, 2017