South Africa vs British and Irish Lions: Who has the sting forward of the primary Take a look at?

Taulupe Faletau is tackled by Eben Etzebeth

After 5 warm-up video games in South Africa, the British & Irish Lions are able to entrance as much as the immense bodily problem of the Springboks in Saturday’s first Take a look at in Cape City.

The Lions have made quick work of the Sigma Lions, the Sharks (twice!) and the Stormers who, because of Covid restrictions and Currie Cup commitments, haven’t put up a lot of a problem.

Their solely loss was in opposition to a South Africa ‘A’ aspect that was very a lot a Springbok line-up because the hosts look to get Take a look at match prepared having performed only one Take a look at match since their 2019 World Cup triumph.

Sam Warburton, Ronan O’Gara, Maggie Alphonsi and Sir Ian McGeechan forged their eyes over the important thing areas to see who might have the benefit forward of the conflict in Cape City.

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South Africa delight themselves on their set-piece and have a formidable unit that likes to bodily dominate their opposition to get them on the entrance foot.

Expect a fierce battle at the scrum, says Sir Ian McGeechan

Anticipate a fierce battle on the scrum, says Sir Ian McGeechan

Their World Cup win in opposition to England was primarily based on this dominance and will probably be very important to the end result of the Take a look at collection.

Sir Ian McGeechan is aware of a factor or two about neutralising that risk having efficiently finished that within the victorious 1997 tour.

Twenty-four years later, the Lions teaching legend says the scrum is simply too tight to name however doesn’t see it as a unfavorable for the Lions: “I feel that the scrums will probably be 50-50, the Lions should work arduous, however what got here out of final Wednesday’s conflict in opposition to South Africa ‘A’ was the power of the scrum.

“I feel the Lions have two real entrance rows to maintain the stress up for the entire eight minutes.”


Regardless of South Africa’s flawless lineout within the 2019 World Cup, Maggie Alphonsi believes that the Lions have the sting and the Springboks might be rusty on this space.

Maro Itoje has been superb for the Lions at the lineout

Maro Itoje has been very good for the Lions on the lineout

In opposition to South Africa A locks Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert – who’re prone to begin on Saturday, the Lions pilfered two lineouts.

“I’m going to go for the Lions primarily based on the consistency we have now seen to date,” defined Alphonsi.

“Maro Itoje has been extremely robust and acquired some steals. We’ve no seen a big quantity from South Africa so it relies on how they go as nicely.”


Either side have a plethora of world class again rowers to name upon, and regardless of the Springboks lacking No. 8 Duane Vermeulen to damage, Sam Warburton believes that is one space that the Boks are forward of the Lions.

The Lions need to get better at the breakdown, says Warburton

The Lions have to get higher on the breakdown, says Warburton

“From what we have now seen to date, South Africa have the sting.

“Can the Lions repair this space earlier than the primary Take a look at? I do not know, however we are able to solely be higher from the hit out in opposition to South Africa ‘A’.

“However then so can the Springboks. The Lions can work arduous to repair the issues, however South Africa are going to be engaged on precisely the identical factor.”


One other space the place South Africa excelled in the course of the 2019 World Cup was their defence. Jacques Nienaber was the person behind that success as their defence coach and could have a number of tips up his sleeve now he has taken over from Rassie Erasmus as the top coach.

Nevertheless, Ronan O’Gara believes the Lions might have the sting and should look to use the likes of full-back Willie Le Roux below the excessive ball.

The Lions must pressurise Willie le Roux, says O'Gara

The Lions should pressurise Willie le Roux, says O’Gara

“We noticed within the World Cup that defence was the important thing for the whole lot South Africa did,” mentioned O’Gara.

“It is the philosophy of Nienaber – you pressurise the talent set of the opposition. I do suppose there’s a large alternative for the Lions to go after Le Roux within the air or look to isolate him.

“I feel if you’re very inventive, then you’ll be able to exploit what they do, however what they’ve finished up to now has been exceptionally nicely.

“From my time within the Southern Hemisphere, the Northern Hemisphere are nicely forward defensively and I feel will probably be a large space of benefit to the Lions.”


Highlights as British and Irish Lions fell to their first defeat of the tour against a strong South Africa 'A' side in Cape Town

Sky Sports 4:59
Highlights as British and Irish Lions fell to their first defeat of the tour in opposition to a robust South Africa ‘A’ aspect in Cape City

Highlights as British and Irish Lions fell to their first defeat of the tour in opposition to a robust South Africa ‘A’ aspect in Cape City

McGeechan believes South Africa’s extra structured strategy to assault might be contained and that the Lions have proven that they’ll assault and benefit from area.

“I feel the Lions have extra selection and the gamers that the Lions select can play barely in a different way. South Africa play a way more structured recreation in assault which might be held – quite a lot of it’s round physicality.

“I feel if they’ll change their recreation, then will probably be a threat for them. The Lions have proven that they’ll get to these outdoors areas, create area and look very harmful.”

Purpose kicking

Owen Farrell's boot could be a major plus for the Lions

Owen Farrell’s boot might be a significant plus for the Lions

The battle of the boot is an intriguing battle as nicely with the Lions having Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly to name upon to maintain the scoreboard ticking over. Nevertheless, South Africa should not too shabby on this division both with Handre Pollard and Morne Steyn of their ranks.

“I’d be stunned if both group dip below 80 per cent [kicking success rate],” mentioned O’Gara.

“It’s a large power for each side.”


The influence of the Bok bench in the course of the World Cup was a significant key to their success as they used their gamers to maintain up the depth for the complete 80 minutes. Generally known as the ‘Bomb Squad’ they usually got here on to boost the physicality in opposition to their tiring opponents.

Alun Wyn Jones comes off the bench as he returns to action following his dislocated shoulder earlier in the tour

Sky Sports 0:43
Alun Wyn Jones comes off the bench as he returns to motion following his dislocated shoulder earlier within the tour

Alun Wyn Jones comes off the bench as he returns to motion following his dislocated shoulder earlier within the tour

Nevertheless, Alphonsi believes South Africa’s lack of recreation time means the Lions bench could have the sting: “We’ve seen within the final three video games that the Lions have a really robust second-half end.

“I feel the Lions have a influence bench that may make a distinction.”


Nothing will get the physique and thoughts prepared for taking part in Take a look at-match rugby than Take a look at-match rugby and on this space, South Africa are nicely behind. Having simply performed one recreation in opposition to Georgia, plus that South Africa ‘A’ recreation, the Boks might be undercooked.

Pieter-Steph du Toit is known for his massive engine but will he be able to keep the intensity up?

Pieter-Steph du Toit is understood for his large engine however will he be capable to preserve the depth up?

As talked about above, the Lions completed very strongly in that recreation whereas their opponents have been hanging on for the whistle.

“I feel they [Lions] completed very well on Wednesday they usually have performed much more Take a look at-match rugby than SA have in the previous couple of months,” confirmed Warburton.

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