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Four years on after losing to South Africa in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, the Springboks again stand in Wales’ path.
This year, however, it is a place in the Rugby World Cup final, rather than in the last four, to be at stake when the two teams collide on Sunday in Yokohama, Japan.
South Africa’s four-point win in 2015 was the 28th time in 31 occasions the Springboks had defeated Wales, but it has also been to proved the last to date as Wales has won the last four meetings since.
South Africa, however, is miles away from the side that has suffered four consecutive defeats to the reigning Six Nations champions. Since Rassie Erasmus took over as head coach in 2018, the Springboks have been restored as one of the most dominant sides in Test rugby.
They might have lost to New Zealand in their opening game but remain the bookmakers’ second favorite, after the All Blacks, to win the World Cup.
The two-time winner kept their bid for a first World Cup final since 2007 alive as they ended Japan’s fairytale in the quarterfinals last week with a 26-3 win.
It wasn’t dazzling, but the suffocating pressure the Springboks defense applied on Japan was a timely reminder that their number one priority is getting the job done, not winning plaudits for their style along the way.
To suggest South Africa are a side only capable of using brute force and very little finesse, however, would be doing the Springboks a disservice.
Faf de Klerk is one of the best scrum-halves in the world, while Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi are absolutely electric wingers.
With the former ruled out against Wales, Mapimpi—who has scored 13 tries in 12 Tests—will be even more important in a game that i
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