Wales v South Africa betting
Wales begin a series of four Autumn International matches when they face South Africa at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday evening. The match is live on BBC2 and kick-off in Cardiff is at 5.30pm.
The Welsh endured a tough time in last year's autumn Tests, which got off to the worst possible start with defeat at home to Argentina, but they went on to win the RBS 6 Nations, defeating England 30-3 in their title decider at the end of March.
Even so, they are rated underdogs by bookmakers for this match against a team currently ranked second best in the world. The hosts are a best price of 17/10 with William Hill and South Africa can be backed at 4/6 with Stan James, with the draw at 25/1 with Paddy Power.
South Africa have seen plenty of action lately in the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship, in which they twice defeated both Australia and Argentina and were beaten only by world champions New Zealand. Indeed they have lost only to the All Blacks in the last 12 months, winning eight of their last 11 Tests.
It's a little over two years since these two countries last met in their opening match of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, when South Africa were 17-16 winners. The last meeting in Cardiff was 3 years ago and that too ended in a narrow 29-25 victory for the Springboks.
South Africa have dominated this fixture down the years, winning 24 of the 26 Tests between the two nations and losing only once. They have won the last 13, but the four most recent meetings suggest that Wales are getting closer to securing an historic second win, as their biggest margin of defeat in that time was just five points.
Wales have played only two Tests since that fine victory over England, on a two-test series against Japan - the second of which saw Japan win their first ever test match against the Welsh, albeit that was basically a Wales B side, with no Lions and various other injuries. Nonetheless, the lack of recent competitive action may well count against them as they face opposition who are well accustomed to playing together as a unit.
The hosts can, however, count on the players who formed the nucleus of a successful British and Irish Lions side over the summer. Nine members of that team will start for Warren Gatland's team against the Boks. Fly-half Rhys Priestland returns almost a year after suffering an achilles injury, while South Africa have recalled centre Jaque Fourie for the first time since the World Cup and have handed a Test debut to prop Frans Malherbe.
The bookies have set the handicap line at three or four points and the advice is to go with the visitors with a minus three start. Stan James are offering the best price on that line, quoting the Springboks at even money to cover the three point handicap.
|South Africa (-3)||Handicap