The British and Irish Lions can wrap up a first series success over South Africa since 1997 if they claim a victory during Saturday’s second Test in Cape Town.
Warren Gatland’s side overturned a 12-3 deficit at the break to claim a 22-17 victory over the reigning world champions during last week’s opening Test, and a repeat performance would ensure they take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
The Lions’ superior fitness ultimately shone through last Saturday, with Gatland’s alterations from the bench also having a huge impact, but will history repeat itself this weekend, or can South Africa set up a winner takes all contest for next week’s third and final Test?
Lions Can Get the Job Done
The Lions had to do things the hard way during the first Test, as they were largely dominated by their hosts during the opening 40 minutes at Cape Town Stadium, while a lack of discipline also meant they deserved to be trailing at the break.
However, South Africa, who were playing only their second Test match since beating England in the final of the 2019 World Cup, were unable to maintain the same levels after the restart.
That allowed the Lions to gain more control, particularly in the forward areas. At the same time, the tourists also appeared to benefit from several contentious refereeing decisions, most notably when Hamish Watson escaped a card after tip-tackling Willie le Roux.
Gatland’s team will undoubtedly need to have some luck on their side once again on Saturday, but after winning last week’s second-half 19-5, they will be confident of getting the job done, and they can be backed at
20/21 to claim victory.
Fast Start May Not Help South Africa
South Africa came flying out of the blocks during the first Test, while an A side largely made up of Test players also dominated the opening 40 minutes of their warm-up match against the Lions on July 14.
It would certainly be no surprise to see Saturday’s contest follow a similar pattern, particularly as the Springboks will feel they will need to build a healthy lead given their lack of playing time at Test level over recent months.
The need for a victory to keep the series alive is also likely to see the hosts come flying out of the blocks, and they can be backed at
20/21 to be leading at half-time, although as last week proved, that will by no means guarantee them an overall win.
Game of Fine Margins in Cape Town
Both teams enjoyed spells in the ascendancy during the first Test, and that ultimately led to a tight contest, with only five points separating the two sides at the final whistle.
There was also just one score between South Africa A and the Lions during their warm-up meeting earlier in the month, while three of the last four Test clashes have seen the two sides separated by five points or fewer.
Another tight contest certainly appears to be on the cards on Saturday, and the Lions can be backed at
7/2 to win the Test by 1-5 points.
*All odds correct at time of writing