After being put to the Samurai sword by Japan, South Africa can finally leap to the top of Pool B by adding five points to the two bonus points earned in that debacle. Scoring tries does not appear to be a problem, but their defence will need to be tight against a sharp Samoan side.
The Springboks still remain 4/9 favourites to top their group despite the false start, and the two-time Champions need to show that they mean business with a win here.
A positive performance would allay any fears of this team’s demise, but the number one priority is points, and South Africa will take an ugly win if necessary.
Following the already mythical result against Japan, Heyneke Meyer has taken no prisoners by making eight changes to his starting lineup.
The casualties from that embarrassing game are; Ruan Pienaar, who is replaced by Fourie du Preez at scrum-half, Handre Pollard for Pat Lambie at fly-half, Duane Vermeulen for Tendai Mtawarira at loosehead, Eben Etzebeth for second row Lood de Jager, Adriaan Strauss for Bismarck du Plessis at openside flanker, Damian de Allende at centre for Jesse Kriel and JP Pietersen for Lwazi Mvovo.
Meanwhile, a second consecutive win for the Pacific nation would boost their hopes of qualification, and they will be confident after collecting four points from their first match
Samoa coach Stephen Betham is sticking with the main crux of players that earned a well deserved 25-16 win over USA in their Pool B opener.
Just three tweaks have been made, with Mike Stanley stepping in for Tusi Pisi at fly-half, TJ Ioane replacing Maurie Faasavalu in the back row and Motu Matu’u coming in for Wayne Ole Avei at hooker.
Players to watch
The springbok number 10 has been told by coach Heyneke Meyer that this game is going to be won or lost by him. The 21-year-old, who won the World Rugby Junior Player of the Year for 2014, is one of the best-attacking fly-half’s in the world and will look to ensure South Africa bounce back from last weeks defeat with his pace and great all-round kicking game.
Samoa’s captain led by example in a big win over USA. The number eight scored the second try just after the break, and he made the most carries over the gainline of any other player in the match, with 10. The London Irish man also made some big tackles in that match with an 89% success rate, and he will need to be on top of his game here.
As brilliant as Japan were, defensively, South Africa were poor. Surely they cannot play that badly again, and Heyneke Meyer is looking for a huge response from his revamped team. The Springboks still remain the bookies favourites to top Pool B, and they are 1/50 favourites to win this match. In eight meetings between these nations, South Africa have won every time, with an aggregate score of 385-93. Samoa are the form side heading in, and are on the hunt for a third straight test victory.
South Africa by 10.
South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux; 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jean de Villiers, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana; 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Fourie du Preez; 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Schalk Burger 6. Francois Louw 5. Victor Matfield, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements 16. Schalk Brits, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Lood de Jager, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Ruan Pienaar, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Jesse Kriel.
Samoa: 15. Tim Nanai-Williams; 14. Ken Pisi, 13. Paul Perez, 12. Rey Lee-Lo, 11. Alesana Tuilagi; 10. Mike Stanley, 9. Kahn Fotuali’I; 8. Ofisa Treviranus, 7. Jack Lam, 6. TJ Ioane, 5. Iosefa Tekori, 4. Teofilo Paulo, 3. Anthony Perenise, 2. Motu Matu’u, 1. Sakaria Taulafo
Replacements: 16. Ole Avei, 17. Viliamu Afatia, 18. Census Johnston, 19. Faifili Levave, 20. Vavae Tuilagi, 21. Vavao Afemai, 22. Tusi Pisi, 23. George Pisi
Date: Saturday, September 26
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Kick off: 16.45
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle, Angus Gardner
Television match official: Graham Hughes