Fri 30 Jul 2021 | 09:32

South Africa v British and Irish Lions – Teams and Predictions

South Africa v British and Irish Lions – Teams and Predictions
Fri 30 Jul 2021 | 09:32
South Africa v British and Irish Lions – Teams and Predictions

LIONS SERIES, ROUND TWO: A very dysfunctional week has added extra drama to an already crucial second Test match between South Africa and the British Irish Lions on Saturday.


Following an already complex Test series thanks to Covid-19, this week’s pre-match banter and criticism from the two camps will now mean nothing.

It all boils down to the 46 men who will battle it out at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

For the Springboks, a win means they will level the three-Test series.

However, a defeat will hand a historic series win to the men from Europe, emulating their 1997 predecessors.

A remarkable second-half comeback saw the tourists recover from 12-3 down at half-time to defeat the reigning world champions 22-17 in the first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

Handré Pollard had kicked the hosts into a commanding position at the break before Luke Cowan-Dickie’s try and Dan Biggar’s boot turned the game on its head.


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Should they prevail again on Saturday then the men in red would match the feat achieved by Sir Ian McGeechan’s heroes 24 years ago by winning the series with a game to spare.

“Going up 2-nil is a very difficult task to achieve,” B&I Lions captain Alyn Wyn Jones admitted when asked about the historic feature.


“It’s 24 years ago and it’s very dangerous to look too far back, our focus is obviously on Saturday.”

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The captain admitted there is a lot of hard work if Warren Gatland’s men want to add their names in the history books.

“A lot has been said about how South Africa are going to improve on the loss. We are expecting the game and the intensity to go up a notch across the board,” the Lions captain said.

“From our point of view, we look at that first half and see how we put ourselves under pressure and where we can improve our game, probably not just from that first half but for the full 80.”

Prepared for anything

The Springboks’ star-midfielder Lukhanyo Am said the physical battle will be of utmost importance this Saturday.

Am was cautious about trying to predict the type of rugby the visitors would play and said their focus was on preparing as well as they could for the match.

“We’ll never know the British & Irish Lions’ plans, but we are very good at adapting and reading what is happening on the field,” said Am.

“We obviously expect some sort of a change because of their change in personnel, but we’ll be prepared for that and be aware of it during the game.”

With the aerial battle again expected to be a key area in the match, Am said: “In Test match rugby there is a lot of kicking involved, so there will always be an aerial battle.

“In our system, we’ve always had backs as covers to try to counter that. We have been working hard on that area since 2018, and we are still doing so as it offers us a nice opportunity to win possession as well as to retain possession when a team kicks to us.”

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Players to watch

For South Africa: Following last weekend’s dominant performance by Trevor Nyakane, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Retshegofaditswe Nche in the first half, it will be interesting to see how Steven Kitshoff, Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe handle the front row challenge. The trio knows each other very well having played together for the Stormers. Jasper Wiese comes in at No.8 to add more physicality to the pack. Bok coach Nienaber will hope he will handle this week’s aerial battle as well as fill the void left by seasoned campaigner Duane Vermeulen. In the backline, centre Lukhanyo Am is always one to produce a solid performance.

For British and Irish Lions: The addition of Chris Harris in the midfield adds extra muscle to the backline. Scrumhalf Conor Murray is a player that could pose a big challenge. The scrumhalf’s kicking game along with Dan Biggar could make life very difficult for the Springboks. England prop Mako Vunipola will look to back up his effective cameo off the bench last weekend.

Head to head:

The contest between the scrumhalves in Cape Town on Saturday is one to keep an eye on, as Conor Murray comes in for the Lions in place of the more attack-minded Ali Price. Murray, with his more structured, patient approach, goes up against Faf De Klerk of South Africa, who is very unpredictable but certainly a vital player. We can’t forget the battle out wide, wing Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa) versus Duhan van der Merwe (B&I Lions). Last week Van der Merwe got the better of the Springbok star. The set-piece contest will also take centre stage – Steven Kitshoff, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe (South Africa) versus Tadhg Furlong, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Mako Vunipola (B&I Lions).

Previous results

1974: B&I Lions won 12-3, Cape Town
1974: B&I Lions won 28-9, Pretoria
1974: B&I Lions won 26-9, Port Elizabeth
1974: SA and B&I Lions drew 13-all, Johannesburg
1980: SA won 26-22, Cape Town
1980: SA won 26-19, Bloemfontein
1980: SA won 12-10, Port Elizabeth
1980: B&I Lions won 17-13, Pretoria
1997: B&I Lions won 25-16, Cape Town
1997: B&I Lions won 18-15, Durban
1997: SA won 35-16, Johannesburg
2009: SA won 26-21, Durban
2009: SA won 28-25, Pretoria
2009: B&I Lions won 28-9, Johannesburg
2021: B&I Lions won 22-17, Cape Town


@rugby365com: South Africa by three points

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South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Lodewyk de Jager, 20 Marco Van Staden, 21 Albertus Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Ali Price, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Elliot Daly.

Date: Saturday, July 31
Venue: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 18.00 (17.00 BST; 16.00 GMT)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 22°C, low of 9°C
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)


PV: 35