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Wales hope to make history against South Africa

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Wales are hoping to secure their first every victory over the Springboks on South African soil on Saturday in Durban in the first of two test matches.

Some of the Wales players warmed up with a 12-34 victory over the Eastern Province Kings while the Springboks beat a World XV team 47-13 in Cape Town last weekend.

Wales coach Warren Gatland held a probables vs possibles trial match before the tour to see who was in form but he has called on a familiar team to tackle the Boks this weekend.

“We started the tour well on Tuesday against EP Kings but it’s important we go out on Saturday and perform to the level we know we can,” said Gatland.

“A Test series in South Africa is always a tough challenge, but we are excited by it and looking forward to getting out there on Saturday.”

A half-back pairing of Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar will feed a well-established British and Irish Lions-filled backline featuring Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts and George North, who was named on the wing despite reportedly suffering a recent illness.

They will provide a stern defensive test for a Springbok team depleted by injury and self-imposed exile.

The ‘Boks centres corp has been stretched thin by an injury to captain Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn’s abrupt decision to leave the squad just days before the match.

As such, Heyneke Meyer’s team features six changes from last week’s comprehensive victory against a invitational World XV, many more than he would have liked.

“It’s definitely been the toughest few weeks for me,” said Meyer. “You plan for five months, you can’t wait to get going and then suddenly you get curve balls from all over.

“It’s been tough … losing some quality centres within the space of a week or a week and half.”

In De Villiers’ absence South Africa will be led by 37-year-old Victor Matfield, who will make his return to Test rugby three years after retiring. Jan Serfontein will replace Steyn.

Meyer has relied heavily on veterans to plug gaps in the side, with Bakkies Botha stepping in to replace injured star Eben Etzebeth.

Prop Gurthro Steenkamp will celebrate half a century of Test caps after he was called back to the front row.

For both sides the match will mark a new phase in preparations for next year’s World Cup.

Wales are coming off a disappointing Six Nations campaign that featured losses against Ireland and England and will look for a historic win to set the tone.

Last 12 results.
09 Nov 2013 South Africa v Wales 24-15 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
11 Sep 2011 (WC) South Africa v Wales 17-16 Westpac Trust, Wellington
13 Nov 2010 South Africa v Wales 29-25 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
05 Jun 2010 South Africa v Wales 34-31 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
08 Nov 2008 South Africa v Wales 20-15 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
14 Jun 2008 South Africa v Wales 37-21 Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
07 Jun 2008 South Africa v Wales 43-17 Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
24 Nov 2007 South Africa v Wales 34-12Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
19 Nov 2005 South Africa v Wales 33-16 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
06 Nov 2004 South Africa v Wales 38-36 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
26 Jun 2004 South Africa v Wales 53-18 Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
15 Jun 2002 South Africa v Wales 19-8 Newlands, Cape Town

Match Officials
Referee:
Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Teams

South Africa

Willie le Roux; Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Victor Matfield (

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