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A heavy defeat to New Zealand last weekend was nothing short of what was expected from a second-strong Welsh side and although Wayne Pivac still has numerous injury concerns, the return of key players like Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau and Louis Rees-Zammit would suggest this will be a closer contest.
Despite that 48-point defeat to the All Blacks, who put a record-breaking number of points on the Welsh in Cardiff, the hosts were very much in the game with 20 minutes to go with the score 26-18 to the visitors.
That difference in fitness levels will have been concerning for Pivac, though we’d fully expect them to tighten up here with greater squad depth.
The World Champions lost their top spot in the rankings last weekend and will be determined to grab it back from the All Blacks with victory here.
They came up trumps against their Southern Hemisphere rivals in their last outing in a narrow 31-29 victory last month, and that should give them great confidence heading into a game where they’ve struggled in recent years, not tasting victory in Cardiff since 2013.
The Dragons have actually won four of the last five meetings with the Boks across all venues, and they’ve also won each of the last four in Cardiff too.
Wales +8 Handicap
Two different coaches at the reins render that record slightly less credible than it would otherwise, but it stands to reason that a full-force Wales side is incredibly difficult to overturn on home soil.
Surprisingly, only one of those four home victories was within a five-point margin, with the biggest being a convincing 27-13 win five years ago. With that said, South Africa are a stronger side now than they have been in recent memory, and it would be a huge upset if they were to lose this outing.
Jacques Nienaber has made three changes to his side that beat the All Blacks, with Damien Willemse and Jesse Kriel coming into the backline, while Herschel Jantjies coming in for the injured Faf de Klerk at half-back could be a dangerous weapon for the visitors.
The number nine will be enjoying just his third start for his country, though he already has five tries to his name for South Africa and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sneak through again here.
Pivac has made numerous changes, with a couple forced through injury in Alun Wyn Jones and Ross Moriarty, though as expected Dan Biggar and Louis Rees-Zammit will come into the backs and look to cause some serious trouble.
While we’d expect the world champions to come up trumps, we can’t ignore Wales’ home record against them and the handicap line on the Welsh looks worth getting behind.
WALES +8 HANDICAP
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