South Africa vs Wales: Priestland tasked with toppling Springboks
Following his man of the match appearance against England, there were plenty of people assuming James Hook would be handed the number 10 shirt for Wales’ opener with South Africa.
But Wales coach Warren Gatland has surprised everyone by naming Rhys Priestland at 10 and James Hook at full-back in a clear statement of his tactics for Sunday’s match.
Tactical kicking and possession is the name of the game if Wales are to beat South Africa but after a morale-boosting win over New Zealand, the Springboks are ready for the challenge.
With just one win in 25 matches against South Africa, the odds are stacked against Wales in their World Cup opener and the handicap betting should be the focus of your attention.
Since winning the World Cup in 2007, South Africa have lost the edge that saw them become world champions and all of the last three matches with Wales have seen South Africa win by very small margins.
Considering the Springboks are the 1/6 favourites, you’d expect them to win comfortably but the last three matches with Wales have seen them win but five, three and four points.
The main handicap line has been set at 13 points and Wales look a great bet at 1/1 but the 15/8 for Wales to win with a +7 start looks the more attractive proposition.
Twice the two teams met in 2010 and while both games were on Welsh soil, Wales led at half-time in both games before South Africa upped their game in the second half.
Wales to be winning at half-time and South Africa to be winning at full-time is available at a very tempting 6/1 and while the Welsh camp is fitter than ever, the Springboks will once again have too much.
South Africa are 2/1 to win by 1-10 points and Wales look a solid bet at 3/1 to win the first half.
Wales: James Hook; George North, Jon Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt), Toby Faletau.
Replacements: Ryan Bevington, Lloyd Burns, Bradley Davies, Andy Powell, Tavis Knoyle, Scott Williams, Leigh Halfpenny.
South Africa: Frans Steyn; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit (capt), Jannie du Plessis, Danie Rossouw, Victor Matfield, Heinrich Brussow, Schalk Burger, Pierre Spies.
Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Johann Muller, Willem Alberts, Francois Hougaard, Butch James.