South Africa vs Lions: Springboks to edge series opener

South Africa vs Lions: Springboks to edge series opener

Kick-off: 17:00, 24/07/2021

Stadium: Cape Town Stadium

TV: Sky Sports

The British and Irish Lions will put their preparation to the test as they face 2019 World Cup winners South Africa in the opening match of their three-game series in Cape Town.

The Lions have won five of their six warm-up Tests – helping us enjoy a clean sweep of winning tips against the Stormers at the weekend – but fell to a strong South Africa ‘A’ outfit earlier this month which proves the challenge at hand for head coach Warren Gatland.

It will be a tight contest which could go either way and despite the Springboks’ lack of game-time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in November 2019, they just get the edge at evens for our opening South Africa vs Lions prediction.

A Look At South Africa’s Betting Odds

South Africa have only played one Test since clinching their third World Cup title due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Preparation has been sparse with only a 40-9 victory over Georgia earlier this month to show, where they also trailed 9-3 in the first half.

But their strength in depth was epitomised by their ‘A’ team which won 17-13 against the Lions,with the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Damian de Allende all starting.

That quartet will also start on Saturday and the Springboks will be keen to make a fast start on home soil.

Both South Africa and the British and Irish Lions have been slow to start in their recent matches, with the Springboks conceding the first points in their warm-up against Georgia and the tourists trailing in each of their last three fixtures.

But home advantage, even with no fans in attendance, should play a factor on Saturday and looking at the South Africa vs Lions odds, the hosts should win the race to 10 points which is priced at evens.

A Look At British and Irish Lions’ Betting Odds

The Lions have had a productive start to their tour after recording five wins in six games during a packed schedule.

Coronavirus also hit the camp during the warm-up match against the Sharks but they still managed to prevail 54-7 despite only having one back on their bench.

The Lions have been boosted by the return of captain Alun Wyn Jones, who will lead the team after recovering from a dislocated shoulder suffered in the opening warm-up match against Japan at Murrayfield.

In a bold team selection, Gatland has overlooked Lions pedigree and established national hierarchies to pick personnel who excelled during the warm-up schedule against modest provincial opposition.

Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and number eight Jack Conan have beaten Jamie George and Toby Faletau to their respective positions while Gatland has opted for the enterprise of Stuart Hogg at full-back, even if his selection does come with risks attached, rather than the benched Liam Williams.

Elliot Daly is picked at outside centre – his preferred position where he has only started once for England – to forge a midfield partnership with Robbie Henshaw, who starts despite only making one appearance since straining a hamstring last month.

Duhan Van Der Merwe has tormented defences all tour and is given the green light on the left wing but there is no place in the 23 for prolific try-scorer Josh Adams, who has crossed eight times in South Africa.

In another nod to events in the build-up to the Test series, Ali Price has edged Conor Murray at scrum-half as reward for his greater energy and dynamism in attack.

Gatland has picked a team to play with tempo and ambition in a clear indication the Lions’ game-plan is to out-run the world champions, who have largely stuck to their tried and tested World Cup-winning XV.

Prop Mako Vunipola, a stalwart of four years ago, is vulnerable at the scrum and he is overlooked for the bench while England captain Owen Farrell has to settle for a replacement role.

That strength of depth could be key later in the contest against a tiring Springboks outfit and Gatland’s side are 4/5 to be the last team to score, which they have done in the last five contests, which wraps up our South Africa vs Lions betting tips.

Additional stats

Last match:

SOUTH AFRICA 40-9 Georgia

Stormers 3-49 LIONS

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