South Africa: Five changes to ‘A’ side for Bristol Bears clash at Ashton Gate

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

South Africa ‘A’ head coach Mzwandile Stick has decided to make five alterations to his team for their clash against Bristol Bears on Thursday.

A week after a chastening 28-14 defeat to Munster, they will look to hit back against the English Premiership side.

The team includes Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who starts at fly-half, and flanker Marco van Staden.

Herschel Jantjies dropped

Feinberg-Mngomezulu replaces Johan Goosen and combines with Grant Williams, who is selected ahead of Herschel Jantjies, at half-back.

There is one more change in the backline as Gianni Lombard comes in for the injured Aphelele Fassi.

Up front, South Africa ‘A’ have made alterations at hooker, where Andre-Hugo Venter replaces Joseph Dweba, and in the back-row, with Van Staden starting ahead of Phepsi Buthelezi.

“It was always our intention to give everyone in the squad game time on this tour to assess our player resources and see what the players have to offer at this level,” Stick said.

“This week we will hand a few different players starting berths as the demands are different on players from the starting team and the bench.

“This is a very talented group of players and they have had a little more time to gel in the last few days after having very little time together before the Munster game, and we are confident that this will show when they take the field against Bristol.

“One of the changes was obviously injury-enforced with Aphelele ruled out, and this offered us an opportunity give Sacha some game time after watching from the sidelines in the last two Bok Test matches.

“He has really impressed the Springbok coaching staff at training with his skills and enthusiasm and we saw what he produced for the Junior Springboks and DHL Stormers, so we are excited to see him playing flyhalf in this match.

“Joseph, meanwhile, is on standby for the Springboks depending on the injury status in their camp and this sees Andre-Hugo earn a start at hooker and JJ get a run off the bench.”

South Africa ‘A’ are expecting a stern challenge from Bristol, despite the Bears’ struggles this season.

The English side are currently on a five-match losing run in the Premiership and reside in 10th position in the table, just above basement-dwellers London Irish.

Faster game

“Bristol are coached by Pat Lam and with his New Zealand background, he enjoys skilful running rugby, so we are expecting the pace of this game to be faster,” said Stick.

“From our perspective, we also have exciting backs and mobile forwards, and they certainly have the ability to keep up with this and make their presence felt.

“We did several encouraging things on attack last week and our defence was solid at times, so the main aspects for us this week is to be a more cohesive unit on the field and to use the chances we create on attack.

“The weather conditions resulted in several knock-ons at crucial times on attack last week, and that cost us dearly, so we need to be more accurate at converting those chances into points this week.”

South Africa ‘A’: 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Andre-Hugo Venter, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Dan du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Johan Goosen

Date: Thursday, November 17
Venue: Ashton Gate, Bristol
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: Adam Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Ben Breakspear (Wales), Rhys Jones (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

READ MORE: Munster seal historic victory over South Africa ‘A’ in Cork

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