South Africa v USA preview: Springboks to secure top spot in style
- Springboks will secure place in final eight with win at Olympic Stadium
- The USA make 12 changes with clash against Japan on Sunday in mind
- South Africa make just two changes from win against Scotland at the weekend
- Boks’ will have ten days to recover before expected quarter-final against either Australia or Wales
Since suffering that infamous shock defeat to Japan, South Africa have looked a different side, and they should win Pool B with a third straight win at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. They take on a second string USA side that would have to overcome odds of 75/1 to claim four points here.
South Africa have established themselves as third favourites to lift the trophy, following a string of improved performances, coupled with England’s premature exit from the competition.
The two-time World Champions will look to maintain their momentum with another victory here, although topping this Pool was likely always to be fraught with danger, as they will face either Australia or Wales from the ‘Pool of Death’ in their quarter-final in 10 days time.
Heyneke Meyer is keeping faith with the majority of the side that cruised to victory over Scotland, making just two changes.
Frans Malherbe replaces Jannie Du Plessis at tighthead while a reshuffle in the backs sees Bryan Habana switch from left to right wing, with speedster Lwazi Mvovo deputizing for the injured JP Pietersen.
The Sharks back has scored four tries in three games in this competition so far, and he has eight World Cup tries to his name. South Africa will hope that the 29-year-old will be fit for their crucial quarter-final showdown a week on Saturday.
Last time South Africa made two or fewer changes between World Cup games was back when they last won the competition in 2007, and they kept the same team from their semi-final win over Argentina and fielded them against England in the final.
USA look to have already conceded defeat in this one, as head coach Mike Tolkin has made 12 changes from the plucky defeat against Scotland.
Only Phil Thiel, Samu Manoa and Blaine Scully have retained their place in The Eagles starting XV Lock Manoa, who recently joined Toulon from Northampton, will skipper The USA for the first time in his Test career
Three of this starting XV will be making their Rugby World Cup debuts, with lock Matthew Trouville, and backs Niku Kruger and Zach Test gracing the tournament for the first time.
Louis Stanfill and Andrew Suniula both make their first appearance at World Cup 2015.
Oli Kilifi, Chris Baumann, Danny Barrett, John Quill, Shalom Suniula, Folau Niua, and Brett Thompson are also drafted into the side, with just Phil Thiel, Samu Manoa and Blaine Scully retaining their spots.
Regular captain Chris Wyles is rested on the bench, and so lock Samu Manoa skippers the side for the first time, on the occasion of just his 14th international cap.
Players to watch
Who would have thought that the star of the 2007 World Cup would still be a force eight years later? South Africa’s record try scorer has clearly lost a yard or two of pace, and his big gasps for air suggest that the sands of time are starting to catch up with him. A more experienced and wily Habana has proved to be just as dangerous, however, with two tries scored in the Pool stage already. The veteran wing needs just three more to equal Jonah Lomu’s record of 15 World Cup tries.
The USA can’t hope to match strength with South Africa in the forward department, in what is sure to be a damage limitation display. Their best chance of a try themselves is to play quickly and catch the aging Bokke pack off guard. Zach Test is set to make his World Cup debut, and the Eagles will be hoping that the young back can spring the element of surprise and mark his debut and with some points.
South Africa are yet to break the 50 point mark in this World Cup, but they may well do here against a second string USA side. Even without their leading try scorer in this year’s competition, the Springboks should have more than enough class and firepower to blow the Americans out of the water. Bryan Habana will have his eye on making history, and Bokke will want to send a message to their quarter-final opponents, whether it be Australia or Wales, that they are ready.
South Africa by 40
South Africa: 15. Willie Le Roux, 14. Bryan Habana, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Damian De Allende, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Fourie Du Preez (captain), 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Lodewyk De Jager, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Bismarck Du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16. Schalk Brits, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Pieter-Steph Du Toit, 20. Willem Alberts, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Morne Steyn, 23. Jan Serfontein
USA: 15 Blaine Scully, 14 Brett Thompson, 13 Folau Niua, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Zach Test, 10 Shalom Suniula, 9 Niku Kruger, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 John Quill, 6 Danny Barrett, 5 Matthew Trouville, 4 Louis Stanfill, 3 Chris Baumann, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Oli Kilifi
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufetee, 17 Zach Fenoglio, 18 Mate Moeakiola, 19 Titi Lamositele, 20 Cam Dolan, 21 Al McFarland, 22 Mike Petri, 23 Chris Wyles
Date: Wednesday, October 7
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens, Mike Fraser
Television match official: George Ayoub