Live Streaming of Lions vs South Africa First Test on Sky Sports in UK & Ireland with Rugby VPN
After a chaotic first test, where the British and Irish Lions overcame a shocking first half performance to overcome the World Champions and secure the advantage in the series by a scoreline of 22-17, the two teams have spent the past week pouring over the key moments of the game and trying to game plan for the upcoming second test. It’s time for the Lions vs South Africa 2nd Test.
🏉 British & Irish Lions vs South Africa (2nd Test)
Saturday 31 July 2021
1700 UK Kick-Off
Sky Sports Live Streaming
Both sides felt hard done by at times during the game with officiating decisions being questionable throughout, but the each side will look at the half in which they were the better team to try and find a way to replicate what they did well across the entire 80 minutes.
As suggested here last week, the keys to the game were the set-pieces and the breakdowns. In the first half the Springboks overwhelmed the Lions and routinely forced them backwards. The Lions couldn’t get quick ball to the backs and when they did, those backs were unable to work through phases of play because of the pressure the South African backs were able to exert off the momentum of their back. This was to be expected. The Boks are World Champions for a reason, and the possess a fantastic pack. You can certainly make the case that the Lions have the better individual players in their forwards but they players who play for four different national teams, and outside of Tadhg Furlong and Jack Conan who both play for Leinster, the other six all play for different club sides. There isn’t the familiarity among them to forge partnerships. They have been through the battles together to form bonds.
The Springboks have been in the trenches together for years. They won a World Cup together. They have an instinctive understanding of what each other is going to do. They put their trust in each other, and not just amongst the starters. The key replacement players are just as much a part of the success they have had, and more importantly the culture they have built over the last few years. The Boks know that if they can enforce their will on these games, they can dominate the Lions. They did so in the first half and really should have gone into the break with a far more substantial advantage on the scoreboard. Players and coaches alike were devastated by the defeat, especially the manner of it. They will have spent this past week doing a post-mortem to figure out what went wrong and how they allowed the game to turn against them. They will focus on getting back to what they did in that first half, using the advantages they have over the lines in terms of their familiarity with each, the seemingly automated actions at set-pieces and the breakdown which overwhelmed the Lions early, and then getting the ball into the hands of their match winners.
It’s impossible for a Lions squad to develop those same understandings, that same trust. They don’t have the time together. Yes, they play warm-up games but that’s not the same as a test match. Some will point to the presence of four English players in the pack, which would be fine if they Lions coach was the England coach but he’s not. Warren Gatland has different beliefs to Eddie Jones. He asks for different things. None of the coaching staff are English either, so there isn’t an input of suggestions from the Jones playbook into the tactical game plan.
The Lions were able to overcome these issues with a very good second half performance when Gatland made an adjustment and demanded that his side get the ball out and moving quickly. They were able to carry the ball into phases of play much quicker and then recycle possession at a faster pace to enable their backline to operate in more space, free from onrushing Springboks. The Lions will be looking to have far more of that, than what they experienced in the first half. The Lions likely have a better chance of winning the second test if the game is decided in the backline than in the trenches.
Both coaches had decided to shake things up a bit, with changes both tactical and enforced. For the Springboks the major changes come at Prop, where Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff replace Trevor Nyakane and Ox Nche. Nyakane drops to the bench while Nche misses out altogether as Vincent Koch takes a spot on the bench. There’s also a change at number 8. Jasper Wiese comes into the team for just his second cap, with Kwagga Smith dropping to the bench. To make space for Smith on the bench, replacement centre Elton Jantjies drops out as the Boks load their bench with forwards, in what seems to signal their intentions.
There are three changes to the Lions starting 15 as well, with Chris Harris replacing Elliot Daly in the centre, Daly drops to the bench meaning the omission of Liam Williams. Conor Murray has been recalled at scrum-half to replace Ali Price who takes Murray’s spot on the bench, and Mako Vunipola comes in at loose head, swapping places with Rory Sutherland who will be amongst the replacements. One further change on the bench sees Taulupe Faletau replace Hamish Watson as the replacement flanker.
It’s likely to be another hard fought game, with every inch of advantage gained making a difference. Which team can impose their game plan, or react to what the opposition is doing the quickest, will go a long way towards determining the outcome. Victory for the Lions will see them secure the series but if the Boks bounce back, that will set up a titanic battle for next weekend’s third and final test.
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