The British and Irish Lions continue their preparations for the three-test series against the 'Boks with a clash against SA 'A' this evening.
We should be in for an absolute cracker this evening as both sides are packed with world-class players, with the South African contingent bringing back a number of World Cup heroes.
SA ‘A’ v British and Irish Lions
Wednesday 14 July
Cape Town Stadium
To Win Match
SA A 12/10
SA A (+2.5) 9/10
Lions (-2.5) 9/10
Well, it may state SA ‘A’ in under the team name but this isn’t far off being a full-strength Bok squad that Lukhanyo Am will lead out onto the Cape Town Stadium pitch this evening. Am may well be the default captain for the next week and a bit as Siya Kolisi has picked up COVID along with Dan Du Preez, Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni and Makazole Mapimpi.
Having seen their second warm-up game against Georgia cancelled due to COVID infections amongst the squad, Jaques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus – the former has contracted COVID so the latter will be running the show from the sidelines this Wednesday – have decided to give some of his big boys some much-needed game time with Faf De Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie Le Roux and Damien De Allende some of the World Cup stars featuring in the run on-side.
The Lions run on XV also looks extremely strong and is unlikely to look that different to the one that takes to the field for the first test on the 24th of July. With Finn Russel out injured, the spotlight will be on Dan Biggar who starts at 10 after an impressive display against the Sharks.
Welsh duo Josh Adams and Louis Reece Zammit link up on the wings and Anthony Watson shifts to fullback. The Lions’ back three will provide a stern test to the South African defence ahead of the first Test, something which certainly was missing from Georgia’s valiant display a few weeks ago.
South Africa A: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Cheslin Kolbe, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Sbu Nkosi, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Steven Kitshoff, 2. Joseph Dweba, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Franco Mostert, 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8. Jasper Wiese
Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20. Rynhardt Elstadt, 21. Herschel Jantjies, 22. Jesse Kriel, 23. Damian Willemse, 24. Kwagga Smith, 25. Elton Jantjies
The British & Irish Lions: 15. Anthony Watson, 14. Louis Rees-Zammit, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Josh Adams, 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Wyn Jones, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Iain Henderson, 6. Josh Navidi, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Zander Fagerson, 19. Adam Beard, 20. Tadhg Beirne, 21. Sam Simmonds, 22. Gareth Davies, 23. Elliot Daly
Verdict: Lions (-2.5) 9/10
This will likely be a bit more open than the three Tests but the two sides are still likely to give it some air so as not to give away their game plans for the three-match series. I expect this will play into the Lion’s hands, especially considering that Rassie Erasmus and his team are unlikely to show too much of their hand here.