Fiery Wales take on resurgent South Africa in rugby semi-final

Wales are used to playing in the damp conditions they'll likely face in Yokohama for their semi-final against South Africa [Matthew Childs/Reuters]

Excitement is building ahead of the second World Cup semi-final on Sunday, as the Dragons of Wales take on the South African Springboks.

South Africa may feel they are close to perfecting an attritional game plan, but Wales have transformed a brick-wall defence into the best form of attack.


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While South Africa's physicality and pragmatism brought an end to Japan's effervescent run through the tournament last weekend, Wales made a meal of struggling past a France side reduced to 14 men for half an hour.

But the South Africans will not find it as easy to beat up a Wales side that prides itself on its suffocating defence, and Warren Gatland's side will probably believe they cannot perform so poorly for two weeks in a row.

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Both sides have lost fine running backs to injury in the shape of South Africa winger Cheslin Kolbe and Welsh fullback Liam Williams - only encouraging the suspicion that this might be a forward-dominated game for the rugby purist.

A titanic battle at the set-piece between two gargantuan packs, plenty of kicking all over the park and big men from both teams trying to smash their way over the gainline can be expected.

The band of fleet-footed outside backs might struggle to find room to shine, especially on a Yokohama International Stadium pitch likely to be at the very least damp from the typhoon season rains, but Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales are no strangers to a spot of bracing moisture.


"I've loved the last two weeks out here," Wales fan Anita Aggarwal told Al Jazeera from Japan. "I light up whenever I see the red of a Wales shirt ahead or the sound of a Welsh accent. I've loved the feeling of constant excitement at what could be - and pride at our achievements so far."

The Welsh have won four of their last five games against South Africa; all four wins have come in Cardiff at the close of South Africa's season, however, and the Springboks will feel they won the one of the five that mattered most - the 2015 World Cup quarter-final.

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