Eight has become just four and now this weekend we will be down to just two! World Cup semi finals take place this weekend with two cracking matches, England have outclassed New Zealand to make the final and now Wales will take on South Africa, the winner to join them in the big dance. Today we will be looking at the second semi final and will it be Wales celebrating their first final appearance or the Springboks adding to the tally? Or maybe which ever side has 23 men available to play a final?
Wales vs South Africa – Semi Final
Injury is a cruel mistress at a World Cup and both these sides have suffered to her hands this week. Wales more so, losing two key players during the week and from the quarter final win against France. Josh Navidi went off in the quarter final win and his World Cup dream is over and during some obvious rough training in the build up, brilliant fullback Liam Williams, a Welsh lynch pin went down as well. Send the SOS, step up Ross Moriarty and Leigh Halfpenny to fill the void at number eight and fullback for Wales. Not terrible replacements to come in but a fair bit of the x-factor ability is lost at the back and Navidi offered a lot more versatility in the pack. More pressure will be going on Justin Tipuric to be a menace at the rucks with only power runners around him. Josh Adams has been outstanding for Wales but without Williams to take attention and create inside could make his job a bit tougher. It’s not all doom and gloom for Wales though, Jonathan Davies is back from his little knock that kept him out of the one point thriller against France. He will take back his midfield spot and Owen Watkin will return to the bench. Davies return will soften the blow of losing Williams in a huge game like this. Halfpenny will want to roll back the clock to better years past to lift his side to an unlikely final place. All this talk about the backs, is probably not the area to really look. The forwards will be the Springboks target and aside from that one change, it has been fairly settled. At least Moriarty has played a good chunk of rugby this World Cup so should be prepared for battle.
The injury whip hasn’t just slashed its way towards Wales, South Africa have lost the enigmatic Cheslin Kolbe on the right wing. Such an electric piece of the Springboks attack, his absence will be felt. S’busiso Nkosi will take his place and certainly add to the average height of the starting lineup. I talked about it a little already, but its clear again how South Africa will play. A big bruising forward pack, a pile of forward replacements on the bench and Faf de Klerk at scrum half box kicking his little heart out all game long. Their defence will be a brick wall and extremely tough to break and it only takes one or two chances for a guy like Makazole Mapimpi and this game could quickly run away from Wales. At inside centre, Damian De Allende will be the man to target. His straight running creates so much space and quick ball when they decide to use the backs, but doubled with that style of play is the amount of ball he loses at the same time. It continues the love/hate relationship Springbok fans have with him. Hadleigh Parkes needs his defence to be in tip top form again for Wales, surely thats why hes there. Once again, the six forward bench will see no let up in physicality from the Springboks who will continue on that momentum from the Japan quarter final. They will look to shut out Wales just like they did Japan, its the winning tactic at this year’s World Cup! The Springboks hold the last remaining hope for the Southern Hemisphere, or will we see Northern dominance in the final?
RESULT = South Africa by 12
I will be streaming during both semi finals this weekend, so if you want to come have a chat during the game, check out my YouTube channel! I will have predictions DAILY for the Rugby World Cup! So make sure to subscribe to the page for updates when a new predictions goes live or check back each day for the next days matches. Who is your pick? Lets me know in the comments below and as always, thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts!