South Africa will look to all but secure their qualification from Pool D with maximum points against whipping boys Namibia on Thursday, kick off 9am Irish time.
The defending champions have recorded two wins from two so far and an impressive display and Fiji last time out once again showed the quality they possess. The Springboks are unbeaten in nine World Cup games and are unlikely to throw away that record in North Harbour.
Namibia are yet to win a World Cup match and have been hammered in their opening two games this time out, conceding 12 tries in the process. Their skipper Jacques Burger, who is South African born has warned the two time champions that they will not roll over easily.
Inevitably, have made changes from the Fiji victory with Gio Aplon and the speedster Bryan Habana on the wings, Francois Hougaard at scrum-half with Fourie du Preez on the bench, while flanker Willem Alberts replaces Heinrich Brussow and prop CJ van der Linde gets his first start of the tournament at tight head. The experienced quartet of Victor Matfield, Johann Muller, Jean de Villiers and Butch James are all given a rest.
In making six changes to the team that lost to Samoa, coach Johan Diergaardt named the most experienced side Namibia have fielded in Test rugby, boasting a total of 264 caps.
The build up to the game has been surrounded not what score will the Boks rack up against the minnows but the speculation that the defending champions will lose the match on purpose for “tactical reasons”. Following Ireland’s win over Australia, South Africa are now likely to play Australia in the last eight. They have quickly moved to rubbish the rumours.
The last and only time the near neighbours have met before was back in 2007 when South Africa rattled up 103 points at Newlands to record a comprehensive victory. They will be taking nothing for granted as it is Namibia’s chance to shine on the world stage and this game provides that opportunity.
Players to watch:
South Africa’s free flowing, attacking and wing playing rugby tore apart the physically competitive Fiji and that tactic should work against Namibia as well. Bryan Habana will look to add to his eight World Cup tries so far and also score his first in this year’s tournament.
Namibia’s Saracens flanker Jacques Burger is their key player. He leads the side well and will need to use all his experience to guide his side through what could be a long game. He has scored five tries for Namibia in just 25 games.
Namibia will fight and give everything but South Africa will have far too much for them and the Boks should run out comfortable winners and take maximum points. South Africa to win by 40 points.
Date: Thursday, 22 September
Kick-off: 20:00 (9pm GMT)
Venue: North Harbour Stadium, Albany
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Tim Hayes (Wales)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)