Hello and welcome to the Telegraph’s live text commentary of the second semi-final of Rugby World Cup 2019, which will be contested between South Africa and Wales. What a game this should be.
Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks are the favourites, by nine points with some bookies. That is probably fair enough. Since losing to New Zealand in their opening Pool B encounter on September 22 at this same venue, South Africa have looked very strong.
Full of power and poise, they have swept to three four straight wins – and comfortably. Although hosts Japan gave them some hairy moments with their free-flowing style, Erasmus’ side eventually extinguished the Brave Blossoms.
This is what South Africa skipper Siya Kolisi said yesterday about the difference between Wales and Japan.
“They are more technical, more structured. We all know they kick a lot of ball, so their forwards are quite important in the game – the set-piece battle, the scrums, and the lineouts.
“That is also what we pride ourselves in, and it is going to be a battle that, whoever can win that – obviously the battle line – we want to make sure we get go-forward ball, and they also want that.
“The pack is quite important for both sides, so it’s going to be a huge challenge for both teams.”
As for Wales, they will not mind the underdogs’ tag. Not one little bit. In fact, on the home straight at the end of an illustrious, 12-year tenure, head Warren Gatland positively relishes a chance to upset the odds.
Shorn of first-choice full-back Liam Williams, Wales have it tough. But Gatland is ready. He gave a stirring performance at Friday’s press conference.
“For us to get to the final of a World Cup, it will be unbelievable given the small playing numbers we have in Wales, the four teams. We feel like we continually punch above our weight.
“But the greatest thing about this group of players, since I have been involved with Wales, is when they put that red jersey on and play for Wales, how much that means.
“They know the opportunity they have got to represent Wales and often ask simple questions that only they can answer.
“If you come off the field, whether you have won or lost, and you can look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I tried really hard today,’ as coach that’s all I can ask for.”