The Boks will be looking to get back to winning ways against Wales. Photo: Neil Munns/EPA
Not since the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final between the Springboks and Wales at Twickenham has there been this much anticipation to the two sides meeting again.

On that chilly autumn day in London it was the Springboks who just managed to triumph over the Welsh courtesy of a moment of genius from eighthman Duane Vermeulen and then captain and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez with the latter scoring a match-winning try.

That would be the last time that a Springbok team would savour the sweet taste of victory over Wales with the Red Dragon managing to beat the South Africans in the three Tests that followed.

For the Springboks, much of tonight’s encounter at the Principality Stadium will have a touch of redressing the past, particularly the more recent history, with their last win in Cardiff coming in 2013  while coach Rassie Erasmus began his tenure this year with a loss against the Welsh in Washington DC.

While looking back at the past will give the Springboks some perspective of what kind of beast they will face this evening, it is also important the South Africans stay in the present and look to build for the future.

It is key that the Springboks get victory for the sake of finishing the year with a respectable record of 50 percent, and only one loss from their four-Test tour. But even more significant: in beating Wales they would send out a serious statement of intent ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Springboks will have to put on their most dominant performance physically, tactically and defensively if they are to break the Welsh’s eight-match unbeaten run.

Wales have proved they can box toe-to-toe with the best in the rugby world and that is underpinned by their third place world ranking.

But most of all it is in their ability to draw from the strengths of northern hemisphere rugby, while also mastering the art of the southern hemisphere game under the mentorship of New Zealander Warren Gatland, that the men in red have been a nuisance to the Springboks in recent years.

A big part of the Welsh success has been their experience and having enjoyed the feeling of being the best either as Six Nations champions, as well as having some members of the British and Irish Lions squad that drew the series against the All Blacks in New Zealand last year.

And these are the areas where Erasmus’s team will have to be one step ahead of their hosts.

The Springboks will again have to be as dominant in the set-piece as they have been in the last two Tests, against France and Scotland.

With ball in hand the Boks have shown that they can be as dangerous as any of the top sides in the world, and it will be critical that they exploit not only their running outside backs but gain front foot momentum through the hard running forwards like Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and RG Snyman.

And a non-negotiable will be the Springbok defence, not just in making the tackles but in lunging themselves at any effort by Wales to breach their advantage line.

Even though lagging behind in terms of experience, the Boks have played enough times together this year (while also enjoying a handful of old heads) not to be overawed by the opposition and in the battle of who wins the pressure moments.

If the Springboks can do that for all of 80 minutes then the battle will be won and they would have slayed the dragon that has been at the heart of their downward spiral in the last few years.

AT A GLANCE

LINE-UPS

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies, Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Adam Beard, Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Nicky Smith

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rob Evans, Dillon Lewis, Cory Hill, Ellis Jenkins, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Handré Pollard, Embrose Papier, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw, Ivan van Zyl, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe.

Referee: Luke Pearce (Eng)

Kick-off: 7.20pm SA time

Venue: Principality Stadium

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