Wales hoping for slower pace

Warren Gatland (AFP)
Warren Gatland (AFP)

Mbombela - Wales traditionally bounce back from a poor start on their southern hemisphere tours and they will be looking to do the same in their second Test against the Springboks in Mbombela on Saturday, said coach Warren Gatland.

Gatland was speaking from their lodge in White River where they were welcomed by summer-like conditions on Thursday compared to the cold weather they encountered in Cape Town, where they were based during the week.

"It has happened on each tour that we've gone to in the southern hemisphere, we've struggled in that first game and in the first half and we struggled with the pace, intensity and the physicality that southern hemisphere brings in that first period," Gatland said.

"We seem to cope a lot better in the second half and if you look in the last tours we've significantly improved from the first to the second Test."

Gatland said the players were well aware that they had turned in a below-par performance in the first of two Tests, but he was confident they would respond in a positive way.

The Wales mentor made two changes to the run-on side that will be looking to make amends for the comprehensive 38-16 defeat they suffered at the hands of South Africa in Durban on Saturday.

Welsh stalwart prop Adam Jones was the biggest casualty as he drops out of the side altogether to make way for Samson Lee.

Gatland also drafted flanker Josh Turnbull into the run-on side in the place of Aaron Shingler with the hope he would be able to slow down South Africa's possession.

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux ran amok in last weekend's match where he had a massive hand in all five of South Africa's tries.

"Willie le Roux caused us some problems - our line speed was way down on what it should be, so we've given them ball," Gatland said.

"It was difficult when we were down to 14 men, we weren't coming down the line aggressive enough, which was difficult for the tighties (tight forwards) going from defensive ruck to defensive ruck."

The Welsh will be looking to disrupt the Boks at the breakdown which would in turn, slow down the pace.

This will be the second time a Test will be played at the Mbombela Stadium in the Lowveld after the Springboks beat Scotland here last year.

The playing surface took a pounding after Samoa and Italy played in the match before, while the sticky and heavy pitch slowed down the pace.

It should not be an issue this time around and the 15:00 kick-off could also play into the Springboks' hands as the Lowveld heat could further tire the Welsh down.

Gatland said there were positives they could take from the match and called for greater continuity from his charges.

"We've got to be prepared in the first 20 to 30 minutes when South Africa do come at you," he said.

"We're really happy with the way we started the game and the way we created opportunities early on and took three points but we then just switched off."


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Flip van der Merwe ,3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Wynand Olivier, 23 Lwazi Mvovo


15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins

Substitutes: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Paul James, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 James Hook, 23 Matthew Morgan

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