THE ROAR – The second semi-final of the 2019 RWC sees the enigmatic Springboks tackle Wales for a spot in the final.

A quick glance at the rivalry between these two sides after the turn of the 21st century would suggest that the Springboks have the wood over their Welsh counterparts.

Between 2000 and 2014, Wales lost 16 match-ups in a row against tonight’s semi-final opponents.

Not dissimilar to the Wallabies in the Bledisloe Cup, only five years ago – the Welsh vs South Africa match up was not really even a contest, as the Springboks beat down on a Wales side that struggled to compete with top-tier talent, and couldn’t make their mark on the world stage.

Fast forward to 2019, however, and things have changed considerably.

Wales have now won four straight against the Boks, and will look to push that number to five when the final whistle blows in Japan this evening.

The Welsh were dealt a major blow when Liam Williams went down at training with an ankle injury, that left him sidelined for the remainder of the tournament.

Leigh Halfpenny secures his place in the starting XV, slotting in at fullback, while, in a big boost, outside centre Jonathon Davies returns from injury.

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Owen Watkin.

For South Africa, dynamo winger Cheslin Kolbe has succumbed to the ankle injury he picked up in the second half against France, so Sbu Nkosi will line up in his place on the wing.

It’s not a bad replacement, either. Nkosi has a very good strike rate in Test matches, dotting down eight times in 10 starts, while he has scored in his last three appearances.

His ability with ball in hand has been well documented in his time with the Sharks in Super Rugby, and, while the loss of Kolbe is a sizeable one, don’t be surprised if Nkosi stamps his mark on this contest early.

Faf De Klerk and Handre Pollard continue their relationship in the halves, whilst Eben Etzebeth and Lood De Jager will look to decimate the Welsh line-out at set-piece time, as they did with the Japanese last start.

South Africa
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Siya Kolisi, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.

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