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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Expect open game between inexperienced South Africa and Wales sides

Mapimpi and North set to shine in Washington DC

George North lines up at centre for Wales against South Africa
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Channel 4, 10pm Saturday

The first Test of the June window is shrouded in mystery as Rassie Erasmus, taking charge of the Springboks for the first time, has named a starting team featuring seven debutants against a second-string Wales side.

South Africa are seven-point favourites, which seems surprising given the inexperience in their ranks and the fact that this is their first match of the year under a new regime.

But while it's hard to be confident about predicting the outcome, it's not so difficult to expect an open contest and a few tries to be scored.

The weather is another unknown factor as it is forecast to be hot and muggy in Washington DC with the chance of thundery showers.

This match could lack the kind of pressure that is normally found in the Test arena. A neutral venue and a low-key build-up should help the new faces feel at ease and cut out the kind of nervy errors we often see, while reduced intensity can often turn a match into a free-running jamboree.

With a three-Test home series against England coming up, Erasmus has opted to leave the bulk of his first-choice squad at home. Only five of his starters have a double-figure caps haul, among them fly-half Elton Jantjies.

The Lions number ten is a more dashing and enterprising playmaker than the more physical Handre Pollard and he should get the Bok backline moving.

The obvious starting point for a tryscorer bet is Springbok winger Makazole Mapimpi, who is coming off a long season in which he scored ten tries in the Pro14 for the Cheetahs before switching the Sharks at the start of the year.

He has four tries in eight Super Rugby appearances in 2018 and this occasion looks made for his pace and finishing.

For Wales, George North is perhaps an equally straightforward selection, but his switch to the centre is interesting as he should see more of the ball against a Springbok defence that may lack cohesion and organisation. He looks a surprisingly big price.

M Mapimpi to score a try
3pts 5-6 Paddy Power
G North to score a try
1pt 5-2 Paddy Power

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This match could lack the kind of pressure that is normally found in the Test arena
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