British and Irish Lions Tour: Highlanders v British and Irish Lions Preview


The British and Irish Lions take on the Highlanders this Tuesday, in the tourists’ second mid-week fixture.

The British and Irish Lions will be looking to claim back-to-back victories over New Zealand Super Rugby outfits when they take on the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr this Tuesday. The tourists produced a much-improved showing last Saturday as they ran out 12-3 victors over the Crusaders. They will need to replicate their staunch defensive effort if they are to make it three wins from four on tour.

Highlanders v British and Irish Lions | Tuesday 13 June | Forsyth Barr Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Highlanders 15/10 | Draw 25/1| Lions 5/10
Highlanders (+5.5) 9/10 | Lions (-5.5) 9/10

The Highlanders haven’t been at their best during their 2017 Super Rugby campaign but their pinpoint tactical kicking will test the Lions greatly. The return of Lima Sopaoga, who makes his first start for the franchise since picking up a hamstring strain in mid-march is extremely well timed for the Highlanders who will desperate to match the Blues and get a win over the tourists.

Sopoaga forms part of an extremely threatening backline which will contain his fellow All Blacks, Waisake Naholo and Malakai Fekitoa. There are some notable absentees from that backline, however, with both Aaron and Ben Smith being rested.

It’s a similar story in the pack with Liam Squire, Tom Franklin and Elliot Dixon all being rested. Despite the big-name absentees, the Highlanders will still provide stiff opposition up front, and we can expect a mammoth shift from workaholic loosie Sam Whitelock who will skipper the side.

‘There ain’t no rest for the wicked’ should be the Lions credo for this tour as they are in for yet another stern test this Tuesday. This will be the tourists’ fourth game in the space of less than a fortnight. And while all Lions tours are grueling, this tour of New Zealand is even harder on the legs with all of the home sides featuring powerful starting lineups.

Lions mentor Warren Gatland has opted to ring the changes for this one with only CJ Stander, who made a cameo of the bench last Saturday, remaining from the side who beat the Crusaders 12-3. Stander will be partnered in the loose trio by tour skipper Sam Warburton, who could really use the game time after missing the close to the European domestic season due to a series of recurring injuries.

Other notable changes to the Lions’ starting XV see Jonathon Josephs make a start at outside centre and the Welsh half-back pairing of Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb reinstated.

Verdict: Lions 5/10
I would have backed the Lions to clear the ‘cap had Gatland not changed his side completely. And while I’m confident they’ll still win this one, I have no idea by how much. My advice here is to get on the straight Lions win at 5/10. 

Written by Darry Worthington for!

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