Resolute Wales to activate X-factor against Springboks

Wales (seen in training) got through the "Pool of Death" and are in no mood to end their World Cup quest in today's quarter-final against South Africa. Four years ago, they made it to the semi-finals.
Wales (seen in training) got through the "Pool of Death" and are in no mood to end their World Cup quest in today's quarter-final against South Africa. Four years ago, they made it to the semi-finals.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Wales are "not ready to go home" and South Africa are in no mood to quit - so something will have to give when the two sides meet in what is set to be a bruising Rugby World Cup quarter-final today.

Four years ago, Wales suffered an agonising 8-9 semi-final loss to France, a match in which captain Sam Warburton was sent off for a spear tackle.

This time, they have emerged from the so-called "Pool of Death" where they beat England 28-25 before losing 6-15 to Australia in the pool decider at Twickenham last weekend.

"We're not ready to go home on Sunday," Wales coach Warren Gatland said of his side's looming return to Twickenham.

"We came back from New Zealand in 2011 feeling a little unfulfilled in that we had done something reasonably special but hadn't reached the final with that sending-off of Sam."

They now face the Springboks, whose World Cup started with the biggest shock in the event's history when the two-time world champions lost 32-34 to minnows Japan.

South Africa, however, won their next three games to top Pool B and coach Heyneke Meyer reckons that the stunning loss to Japan helped harden his side.

"Losing to Japan was a very tough day but we had to learn from it," he said.

"But I have said to the players this week we are right back to where we started and we have to go through it all over again."

A high penalty count has proved the Springboks' Achilles' heel at this World Cup. Meyer said "great discipline" would be needed to avoid giving in-form Wales goal-kicker Dan Biggar easy points.

Four years ago in New Zealand, Wales beat Ireland in the quarter-finals when South Africa were edged out by Australia at the same stage.

"What we learnt from 2011 is that during this tournament, you have to be prepared to throw something different in," Gatland explained.

"We did that against Ireland in 2011 and changed the way we wanted to play.

"We've done a couple of things this week that, hopefully, South Africa haven't seen."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SOUTH AFRICA V WALES
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'Resolute Wales to activate X-factor against Springboks'. Print Edition | Subscribe