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The 2021 British and Irish Lions will play their third and final test against South Africa on Saturday with it all to play for.
Warren Gatland’s side displayed an impressive second half in the first test to take the lead in the series but the Springboks showcased why they are reigning world champions with a dominant victory in the second test.
Jacques Nienaber’s world-class defensive coaching kept the Lions at bay and frustrated the touring side that was looking to close out the series early.
Both teams need to win this weekend to win the series, and with the gameplan of the Springboks persevering and the momentum firmly swung in their favour, the Lions will have to put up a fantastic team performance to earn the bragging rights.
Gatland has rolled the dice with his changes, one of them seeing the Pro12-winning ex-Connacht centre partnership of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw play together for the Lions.
Henshaw’s positional flexibility and Aki’s strength could be important factors in a prospective Lions victory.
However, neither are Brian O’Driscoll and the Cape Town showdown may be won via other ways of play.
The Boks’ scrum is the best in the world and the lineout is among the top in its category too.
Whether it be dispersing quickly when out of possession or looking for holes in the South African line with the ball, the set-piece battles will be as important as the first two tests.
Finding even the tiniest of holes in the way these technical aspects of the South African game are set up could prove fatal as the pace of Josh Adams can expose these to great effect.
The Lions will have to improve their aerial abilities too as the Boks have shown that they love to kick in this series.
Henshaw’s ever-presence in the squad throughout the test series is down to several reasons, one of them being his composure under a high ball.
If some more aerial duels went his way and if the backfield can win theirs, the Lions can be a much calmer side in possession.
The Boks are favoured heading into this test but if the Lions play their cards right, they could upset the odds.
Whatever they do, they will want to avoid more heartbreak at the hands of Morné Steyn and the Springboks.
British and Irish Lions: L Williams (Wales); J Adams (Wales), R Henshaw (Ireland), B Aki (Ireland), D van der Merwe (Scotland); D Biggar (Wales), A Price (Scotland); W Jones (Wales), K Owens (Wales), T Furlong (Ireland); M Itoje (England), A W Jones – captain (Wales); C Lawes (England), T Curry (England), J Conan (Ireland).
L Cowan-Dickie (England), M Vunipola (England), K Sinckler (England), A Beard (Wales), S Simmonds (England), C Murray (Ireland), F Russell (Scotland), E Daly (England).
South Africa: Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Damian de Allende (Munster), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks), Handré Pollard (vice-captain, Montpellier), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier); Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks), Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Toulon), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)
Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Morné Steyn (Vodacom Bulls), Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers).
South Africa 11/10
British and Irish Lions 8/5
Where To Watch
The game will be shown live on Sky Sports with kick-off scheduled for 5 pm. Coverage will start on Sky Sports Action at 3:30 pm with Sky Sports Main Event showing it from 4 pm onwards.