South Africa A v Lions betting tips: Gatland rings the changes
Preview and odds for Wednesday’s match
The British and Irish Lions play their third match of the tour since arriving in South Africa and we have scoured the odds to highlight some South Africa A v Lions betting tips.
Warren Gatland’s Lions won their first two matches on South African soil against the Sigma Lions and Cell C Sharks, barely breaking a stride.
Wednesday’s match at the Cape Town Stadium is on Sky Sports and kicks off at 7pm BST.
South Africa A v British and Irish Lions odds
Having cruised to a 56-14 win over the Sigma Lions and a 71-31 victory over the Cell C Sharks, the Lions face a much stiffer test against South Africa A and are 4/6 to triumph.
Tour captain Connor Murray will lead the Lions for the first time against a strong South Africa A team.
Gatland makes 12 changes from the side that beat Cell C Sharks on Saturday, with only Dan Biggar, Chris Harris and Anthony Watson retaining their places.
The game goes ahead despite a Covid-19 outbreak in the Springboks camp, with Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit among the World Cup stars appearing for the hosts, who are 5/4 to win with the tie available at 20/1.
South Africa announced that captain Siya Kolisi had tested positive for the virus on Sunday, with the entire squad isolating in their hotel rooms last week.
Yet although Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, director of rugby Rassie Erasmus takes charge of a strong squad that will look closer to a Test side than an A side.
South Africa were forced to call off their intended second Test with Georgia, and Nienaber wants to use this clash as a warm-up for the forthcoming Test series against the Lions.
Indeed, nine Springboks who played in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England have been named to start.
Willie le Roux starts at full-back for South Africa, with Cheslin Kolbe on the wing and Eben Etzebeth in the second row, while fellow World Cup winner Lukhanyo Am is captain in the absence of Kolisi.
Lions coach Gatland has moved Watson to full-back, with the prolific Josh Adams – who has scored eight tries for the Lions – on one wing and Louis Rees-Zammit on the other, as Duhan van der Merwe is rested.
The Lions’ back row is strong, with plenty of competition for places and this time Gatland has opted for flankers Josh Navidi and Tom Curry, with Taulupe Faletau (pictured above) at number eight.
With Finn Russell unavailable with an Achilles injury, Biggar will have a chance to cement his place at number 10, but England captain Owen Farrell has been left out because of an abdominal strain, although he should return for Saturday’s game against the Stormers.
Lions could roar early
The Lions have covered big handicaps with plenty to spare in their first two matches in South Africa, and they are 10/11 to overcome a two-point handicap on Wednesday.
The news that Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones could make a sensational return in time for the Test series, after seeing dramatic progress in his recovery from the dislocated shoulder that appeared to have ended his tour, will have cheered Gatland.
“A few weeks ago, we didn’t think there was an option and he’s been back fully training with Wales. He’s trained this week with them,” said Gatland.
“That’s a real positive and it would be a boost to the squad having someone of his experience and calibre to come in.”
South Africa have not had an international game of any note recently, so may take a while to get find their rhythm.
The Lions have led comfortably at the interval in both tour games thus far and they are 6/5 to lead at half-time and full-time on Wednesday.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication