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George North: Wales have 'another gear to go' against Boks

By PA
George North /PA

Wales star George North is relishing “the brilliant experience” of a Test series decider against world champions South Africa in Cape Town.

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North and company have given themselves a chance of winning the three-match series after levelling matters with a 13-12 second Test victory.

The Bloemfontein success was Wales’ first win against the Springboks in South Africa, arriving at their 12th attempt.

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“The plan, go to Cape Town, seal the series” – South Africa rugby back themselves for the final test
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“The plan, go to Cape Town, seal the series” – South Africa rugby back themselves for the final test

And it has set up a blistering tour finale, with Wales targeting a feat that appeared pure fantasy just over three months ago when they were beaten at home by Italy.

For North, who is set to start alongside Nick Tompkins in midfield, it would also see him become the most-capped back in Wales men’s international rugby history, overtaking Stephen Jones’ mark of 104 Test appearances.

“The squad is in a really good place. We could feel a performance coming in our preparation,” North told www.wru.co.uk.

“We showed great character in digging in defensively. There are still some bits to tidy up on, but it was a big step forward from the first Test to the second, and I think there is another gear to go.

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“This is why you play rugby at this level and put yourself through every minute of pain – it is to get yourself into a position to play in games like the one in Cape Town, and this is what it comes down to.

“The first game was a proper Test match, the second came down to one point and that has teed us up nicely for the third Test. I am sure Cape Town will be a brilliant experience.”

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac is due to name his starting line-up on Thursday, when he will hope to have avoided any injury-enforced changes.

ref watch Boks Springboks Wales
South Africa’s center Jesse Kriel (L) jumps to fight for the ball with Wales’ centre George North (R) during an international rugby union match between South Africa and Wales at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on July 9, 2022. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)
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Captain Dan Biggar took a blow to his shoulder in Bloemfontein and went off just after half-time, while wing Alex Cuthbert made a 17th-minute exit and prop Dillon Lewis also departed the action.

North added: “We came out here in 2014 and didn’t do the job then, and facing the world champions on their own stamping ground is tough.

“The first Test set the standard for both teams. No backward steps were taken and the second Test felt even more on edge, as it should have done.

“We had a lot to tidy up with our discipline and penalty count. With a new squad it was always going to be a mixture of edgy rugby and feeling their way into the game of the Springboks.

“We felt rough after last week, especially with the way it finished, and to come out and get one back is brilliant. With one more game to go in Cape Town, it builds the excitement beautifully.”

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