Pivac cranks up mind games as Wales eye more history in South Africa

Pressure is on the Boks! Head coach Wayne Pivac cranks up the mind games as Wales eye more history in Test series decider against South Africa

  • Wales won the second Test 13-12 to claim their first ever victory in South Africa
  • Wales boss Wayne Pivac believes the pressure is on the Boks for the third Test 
  • Dan Biggar and Dillon Lewis have made ‘miraculous’ recoveries to face the Boks 

A battered and bruised Wales have defied all the odds to go into Saturday’s deciding Test in South Africa with a chance of sealing what would be a remarkable series win.

Their head coach Wayne Pivac believes the pressure is on the Springboks for the third Test in Cape Town given it was seemingly a given before the tour that they would prevail at a canter.

That has not proven to be the case. Wales, with their backs to the wall, have excelled.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac believes the pressure is on South Africa for the third Test

In the backyard of the world champions, Pivac’s men deserved to win the first Test and did claim victory in the second. Now, both sides are ready to enter win-or-bust territory.

‘I think there’ll be pressure on the home team,’ Pivac said. ‘There is no doubt about that because going in they (South Africa) were red hot favourites.

‘To take it to the last game I think adds a little bit of spice and a little bit of pressure. It’s like in any sport. In a Davis Cup you can have a dead rubber.

‘The match still gets played, but it doesn’t quite have the same significance. We’re very pleased to come into this week with something to play for which hasn’t happened in the past.

‘It’s about getting it right mentally now. It’s been three big, hard weeks. It’s a massive Test match, but to be in the race is very pleasing. It (a series win) would mean the world to the team.

Captain Dan Biggar and prop Dillon Lewis have made ‘miraculous’ recoveries to face the Boks

‘They’ve worked very hard to get into this position.’

Wales shocked South Africa 13-12 in the second Test to claim their first victory on Springbok soil against a team which contained 14 changes and six uncapped players.

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has brought back the big guns for this weekend.

Wales’ only change is second Test matchwinner Josh Adams replacing the injured Alex Cuthbert on the wing.

Captain Dan Biggar and key prop Dillon Lewis have made ‘miraculous’ injury recoveries.

Both were forced off with shoulder and elbow problems in Bloemfontein last Saturday but are fit to start this.

Wales won the second Test 13-12 to claim their first ever victory in South Africa last Saturday

‘The main thing for us is making sure the boys have petrol in the tank ready to go for Saturday,’ Pivac admitted. ‘A few boys are banged up, but it’s a big occasion and one the players are looking forward to. We would like to think the effort will be there as it has been in the first two Tests.

‘Clearly they (South Africa) have had a week to freshen up. Our boys have gone toe-to-toe with two different sides over the last two weeks. We’ll be physically ready and now it’s a big mental challenge for us to get up and go again after the excitement of last week.’

At the end of a long season, the big question for Wales is will they be able to summon the physical and mental energy needed to take on a giant South Africa side once again?

The Springboks, meanwhile, are the start of their campaign.

Not only are they smarting from a rare home defeat, but they can also bring back a host of World Cup winners who had last weekend off.

No-one could blame Wales if they ran out of puff this Saturday because they have already exceeded expectations, particularly in the wake of their awful Six Nations and defeat by Italy.

Wales go into Saturday’s deciding Test with a chance of sealing a remarkable series win

And yet there remains a feeling Pivac’s men have a priceless opportunity within their grasp.

No matter their personnel, South Africa have been rusty in the first two Tests.

Wales can take advantage again so long as they can deliver up front for the third straight match and minimise their penalty county to around the 10 mark.

‘We have got a lot to play for and we would fancy ourselves in the closing stages if the game is tight,’ said Pivac, who has already achieved Welsh history and has more in his sights.

Centre George North will become Wales’ most-capped back when he makes his 105th appearance in Cape Town. Biggar’s fitness means second Test hero Gareth Anscombe is on a strong bench with experienced forwards Alun Wyn Jones and Josh Navidi. Wales have a good chance.

‘We are very pleased, obviously. They are two key players for us,’ said Pivac of Biggar’s and Lewis’ recoveries. ‘I’ve got to say the medical team has done a fantastic job.’

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