The corresponding fixture in the last World Cup was a belter of a game, played on a sunny Marseille afternoon. South Africa won 37-20 en route to their second World Cup but with the scores tied at 20-20 after an hour, every neutral was willing the islanders to an unlikely victory and wishing that Caucau was playing.
South Africa just don’t lose to Fiji though. This Boks vintage looks less impressive than four years ago but so do Fiji. Skipper Rauluni, who played the game of his life, has retired and is a hard man to replace. Yet again, Caucau has failed to make the squad, despite starting for Toulouse in the Bouclier final against Montpellier ahead of Vincent Clerc. Having said that, Goneva bagged four in the first game, so he must be pretty good.
PdV has again omitted Bismarck which seems a very poor decision. Victor Matfield is injured for this encounter and it will be worth keeping an eye on South Africa’s lineout in his absence. Schalk didn’t impress against Wales and Fourie du Preez hasn’t yet recaptured his world conquering 2007 form. Steyn and Steyn occupy the midfield pivot role but looked short of invention when de Villiers left against Wales. The wildcard may be Patrick Lambie. If he gets into the first receiver role in broken play, he can add pace and vigour to the Bok attack, getting their big men running onto the ball and causing trouble for Fiji.
The bookies have the Boks by 22. If they don’t beat the handicap, they won’t miss by much but they also have the ability to kick on and win by 40.