Liam Williams Rugby World Cup 2019: Five key areas that could decide Wales against South Africa

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As injuries have mounted for Warren Gatland’s men in an unwanted repeat of their 2015 World Cup campaign, the mood of optimism for Welsh supporters has begun to ebb away somewhat.

The loss of star players Liam Williams (ankle) and Josh Navidi (hamstring) following their side’s unspectacular quarter-final win over France means Gatland’s men are now without five first-choice starters with Gareth Anscombe, Taulupe Faletau and Ellis Jenkins already ruled out before the tournament began.

But despite a heightened sense of pessimism, there remain plenty of reasons to be cheerful as Gatland’s men have beaten the Springboks no fewer than five times in their last six encounters, including the last four games in succession.

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Here are five key areas which could decide the second semi final on Sunday, against England after their upset over champions New Zealand.

Boss the breakdown

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The last time these sides met in November last year Cardiff Blues flanker Ellis Jenkins produced one of the all-time great back-row performances as Wales ran out 20-11 winners.

With a low centre of gravity, superb technique, bravery and perfect timing, Jenkins pilfered South African ball with indecent regularity as Wales completely dominated the Springboks at the breakdown.

Cruelly for Jenkins and Wales, he ended the game being carried off on a stretcher with a knee ligament injury which would rule him out of the World Cup. But his performance that day showed the Springboks towering back row trio of Pieter Steph du Toit, Duane Vermuelen and Siya Kolisi can be undermined.

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