We couldn’t have wished for a better conclusion to the Lions tour to South Africa with everything to play for in the third and final Test. After the Lions won the opening game, both our pundits Mike Dias and Mike Jobling tipped the Springboks to level the series last weekend.
The South Africans did just that with a superb second half performance to set up a winner-takes-all decider in Cape Town. Who will take the glory? Will the home side add this series to their World Cup crown? Or will the tourists board the plane home in celebratory mood?
Jobling hopes to end the day with bragging rights over his fellow front row forward and believes Lions coach Warren Gatland has come up with a plan to deal with the high ball tactic that the home side used to win the second Test.
“So, the decider,” Jobling said. “This will be a tasty encounter, and both myself and Mike Dias will be spending the entire day together so it’s will be an emotional day for one of us!”
“Let’s get stuck in to Lions squad selection. I’m really happy to see Ali Price back at scrum-half and Josh Adam is deserving of his place on the wing. Gatland is aware of the aerial threat and has fixed that problem with the ever reliable Williams at 15.
“Bundee Aki will cause some problems for the ‘Boks with his raw power. I am surprised at the start for Wyn Jones but we will see what he comes up with. I am particularly impressed by the bench featuring a dynamic front row to come on and Simmonds to bring some energy in the latter stages.
Hopefully we will also see Finn Russell feature as he brings a lot of flare.
“Now onto the ‘Boks. It’s such a shame that the blonde-haired troll isn’t playing, but the replacement of Reinach at number nine will make Courtney Lawes think twice about rucks as they were both stable mates at Northampton. Du Toit not playing will give Maro Itoje a mental boost and I believe Rassie will use it as an excuse for defeat if they don’t get it their own way.
“As for the match, there will be bodies sacrificed on both sides for the final Test and I have a feeling that the ‘Boks will come out hot. If the Lions can contain the early pressure and take points away from each entry into the opposition ’22’ then it will suppress them. I can see the game being level at 9-9 at half-time and I’m going for the Lions to win 23-15.”
Dias admits he is a little nervous ahead of the third Test and believes the Lions could capitalise on the loss of key players in the South African team. But over the course of 80 minutes, he expects his nation to win by five points.
“Firstly, the tournament has been a shambles but this is the best outcome having the series come down to the final Test,” Dias said.
“I personally have enjoyed the games because they have been really physical and tense. This weekend’s game, I’m a little nervous about to be honest. I don’t think it’s the strongest Lions team on paper but they have players who will be playing with no fear.
“I think Aki and Henshaw will be solid. From a South African point of view, having Lood de Jager starting is huge. He’s a big presence with a huge workrate and he will put a lot of pressure on the lineout.
“No Faf or Peter Steph is obviously a huge loss for any team as they would both be in conversation for a world XV so of course they will leave a hole and give the Lions confidence. Hopefully we can bring a high amount of pressure and capitalise on any Lions mistakes.
“The scrum will be huge and interesting to see how Wyn Jones and Ken Owens go against what looked like a strong performance last week from the ‘Boks. I’m really struggling to call it because South African put so much emotionally into the game last week and that makes me nervous!
“But can the Lions pull back so many points when they haven’t really looked like scoring a try!
I’m going for South Africa to win by five points. Come on you Bokke!!!”