Cometh the Millennium

2014-11-28 00:00

AS a long season draws to a close, the Springboks have one last chance to test themselves in Northern Hemisphere ­conditions.

With less than a year to go before the World Cup in England, the Boks are still coming to grips with the rigours of rugby up north. Slower fields and wet conditions have slowed the game down considerably — a stark contrast to the ­fast-paced matches of the Rugby ­Championship just over a month ago.

Titanic forward battles have been the order of the day while the battle at the breakdowns has also been fierce. The Boks realised that they needed to be sharp in both departments after losing to ­Ireland in the tour opener.

Three weeks later, Heyneke Meyer’s side are looking to make it three wins out of four Tests. Their final hurdle comes in the form of the Welsh dragons, who were unlucky to lose against New Zealand last weekend.

There seems to be no place more fitting for the clash than Millennium Stadium. The atmosphere in Cardiff is always epic but the conditions and the pitch will be challenging for some of the greener Boks.

“Even if the roof is closed, because of the damp and dew it’s like a greenhouse effect so it’s still wet even if it’s closed,” Meyer said, summing up the tough ­conditions.

With that in mind, the coach named a relatively unchanged side mid-week in an attempt to keep continuity and ­experience against a rather menacing Welsh backline.

Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach will ­operate at flyhalf and scrumhalf ­respectively.

They played well in the last two Tests and Lambie’s experience from past tours up north seems to have moved him up the pivot pecking order ahead of wunderkind Handré Pollard.

It will also be exciting to see Lwazi Mvovo start on the wing. He has a final opportunity to impress the coaching staff but the pressure is on him to perform.

Wales have always had a strong kicking game and their backs are very good on the kick-chase.

Another player who is still in Meyer’s World Cup plans is centre Damian de ­Allende.

He is set to make an appearance from the bench tomorrow.

Although he might be rusty from a lack of game time, Meyer still rates the ­Province player highly.

“Damian is a really bright prospect and was brilliant in Super Rugby. We got him involved and unfortunately he got injured when he was selected for the Boks.

“We played him in two games just to see what he can do but he was still not his best, he was still injured.

“It’s been tough for him but he’s a great player and there is a question mark because he hasn’t played but I’ve had a good one on one with him and I think next year he’s going to be brilliant and he will press hard for a starting jersey.”

De Allende and Nizaam Carr, Julian Redelinghuys, ­Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje, Reinach and Lood de Jager will all be looking to make their mark this weekend.

Lions scrumhalf Ross Cronjé has been called into the Bok squad as cover after Rudi Paige suffered a knee injury during training this week.

The Boks take on Wales at 4.30 pm tomorrow.

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