WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview and an each-way selection for the 2.15 at Naas on Sunday 17th October.
|Luke Cowan-Dickie||16/1||To Score First Try
South Africa v British & Irish Lions
Date of Tips: 21/07/2021
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (11:16 21/07/2021) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
South Africa v British & Irish Lions
The waiting is over, the speculation of selection is no more and we can finally get down to the nitty-gritty of test match rugby as South Africa v British & Irish Lions takes place for the first time in twelve long years. Cape Town would normally be buzzing with anticipation and flooded with thousands of travelling supporters but in these testing times, we will have to do without the ‘sea of red’ and the hosting South African public. Behind closed doors or not, it will be a pulsating physical contest between the World Champions and the best of the British Isles who look pretty evenly matched on paper.
It could well come down to the basic fundamentals of rugby rather than a flashy moment of genius from any of the superstars on show that wins it. Who will hold their nerve in the goal-kicking dual? Which side will gain ascendancy in the scrum? Can the Lions’ impressive lineout function fully against the talented Springbok pack? What has Gatland been holding back in the warm-up matches and can Rassie Erasmus inspire a nation to glory once more? All will be revealed this Saturday afternoon. Boylesports has the home side to win the first test at 11/10, a draw between the two sets of warriors at 25/1, and the tourists to be victorious, priced a 5/6.
THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
The Springboks have won all of their previous five games but only the match against Georgia has been played recently. That victory is the only time that South Africa has played an international since the Rugby World Cup in Japan back in 2019, although most of their starting line-up featured against the B. I Lions for South Africa ‘A’ just 10 days before the first test in Cape Town.
The Lion’s only blip was that fixture against South Africa ‘A’ which was deemed the unofficial fourth test match by the media due to the strength selected by Rassie Erasmus. Before that, the tourists had been blowing away all the provincial sides with marginal resistance from the local South African teams. Their five tour matches so far have ended like this;
In terms of the most recent test matches head-to-head, the last two tours have both finished 2-1 in the test series. In 1997, The Lions won the first two before the Springboks were victorious in the third and final test. Most recently in 2009, it was South Africa who completed a series victory, also with a 2-1 scoreline in the 3-test series. The Springboks built up an unassailable 2-0 lead by winning the first two tests matches before The Lions went home with a victory in the third and final test.
Anything can happen in this opening contest. It is hard to go against the World Champions in their own backyard but the Lions’ preparation is always diligent and designed to peak for the test series. It is hard to see either side gaining a run-away victory and the smart money would be to go for a single score victory for either side. Lions by 1-5 points is (9/2) with SkyBet and the Springboks by the same scoreline is (4/1) with Paddypower.
Discipline and goal-kicking could be crucial on the day so whoever can keep the penalty count down will gain an advantage. You can have a flutter on the match being decided with the boot alone and there being no tries at all with Betfair at (33/1). That said, despite the two imperious defences on display, with such a pressure cauldron, mistakes can always occur at any time of course. Errors lead to tries and the best teams will always capitalize on a dropped ball, interception opportunity, or counter-attack looking to cross the whitewash.
You can back Luke Cowan-Dickie to be the first try-scorer with Boylesports at (16-1) and for any last-minute drama, Siya Kolisi is priced at (28-1) by Betfred to score the final try of the game. If you don’t have an account yet, you will also be able to claim the Betfred new customer offer of £30 in free bets.
Cowan-Dickie has had quite the season having established himself as England’s number one hooker in the Six Nations, the Exeter Chiefs man produced a barnstorming performance last weekend against the Stormers. His try-scoring display and physical approach to the game has seen him leapfrog Gatland favourite Jamie George and the experienced Ken Owens in the hooking pecking order. He loves to pop up at the back of a driving maul and scores tries for fun at any level.
As for the Springbok captain, having overcome adversity all of his life, it would be typical of the man to pop up at the end with a decisive try to lead his team to victory. Kolisi was touch and go to make the match having been isolating away from his teammates but the abrasive flanker loves people doubting him and invariably proves them wrong.