KO 5.00pm at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Saturday 24th July 2021
Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action
After all the moments it looked like it might not happen; after all the thoughts of delays, of moving the series to the UK, Australia, anywhere; after Covid hitting both camps; somehow here we are, about to witness a Lions’ Test series kicking off in South Africa for just the third time in the last 40 years.
Tale of the tape
53 Tries 88
90kg Average weight 92kg
231 Total caps 390
29.3 Average age 28.5
885kg Pack weight 911kg
25 Tries 36
322 Total caps 449
29.5 Average age 29.1
224 Total caps 475
20 Tries 57
28.3 Average age 30.4
Changes from South Africa ‘A’ v Lions
- 9 Springboks’ starters also started for SA ‘A’
- 16 of the Springboks’ First Test 23 also played for SA ‘A’
- 3 Lions’ starters also started against SA ‘A’
- 12 of the Lions’ First Test 23 also played against SA ‘A’
15 Willie le Roux
14 Cheslin Kolbe
13 Lukhanyo Am
12 Damian de Allende
11 Makazole Mapimpi
10 Handre Pollard
9 Faf de Klerk
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Anthony Watson
13 Elliot Daly
12 Robbie Henshaw
11 Duhan van der Merwe
10 Dan Biggar
9 Ali Price
1 Ox Nche
2 Bongi Mbonambi
3 Trevor Nyakane
4 Eben Etzebeth
5 Franco Mostert
6 Siya Kolisi (c)
7 Pieter-Steph du Toit
8 Kwagga Smith
1 Rory Sutherland
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
3 Tadhg Furlong
4 Alun Wyn Jones (c)
5 Maro Itoje
7 Tom Curry
6 Courtney Lawes
8 Jack Conan
16 Malcolm Marx
17 Steven Kitshoff
18 Frans Malherbe
19 Lood de Jager
20 Rynhardt Elstadt
21 Herschel Jantjies
22 Elton Jantjies
23 Damian Willemse
16 Ken Owens
17 Mako Vunipola
18 Kyle Sinckler
19 Tadhg Beirne
20 Hamish Watson
21 Conor Murray
22 Owen Farrell
23 Liam Williams
South Africa Scouting Report
For all that the sides might not have been full strength and the claims that both coaches were sandbagging to avoid showing their hand, there was still plenty of interesting stuff in the South Africa ‘A’ game – the closest to full intensity the tour has come so far. Here are a few items that might well carry through to the Test series.
There was a lot of kicking on both sides last week in Cape Town. That’s not necessarily something either coach would be too unhappy about. What they might be more concerned about was the quality in this facet of the game. Winning the kicking battle will be crucial in the Test series and both sides still have some work to do.
For the Lions the main issue was simple inaccuracy. In the early stages they were pressured into errors by poor setup work and wrong decisions. Things picked up in the second half and the kick chase was much stronger but Saturday will need to see 80 minutes of getting almost everything right.
The change in personnel should help. Having Stuart Hogg at full back to boom kicks down the pitch is a big boost. He will share the workload with Dan Biggar and Elliot Daly to give the Lions a triumvirate of options in the outside backs. A lot of this will start with Ali Price at 9 though. The Glasgow Warriors’ player has been the best performing scrum half on tour and with his kicking for Scotland taking a real step up this season he will look to keep things contestable or find space where possible.
South Africa ‘A’ struggled to get enough on their kicks to work their way out of the territorial stranglehold the Lions’ had them in for much of the last 50 minutes of the game. Morne Steyn in particular couldn’t seem to get much distance on his kicks. Even Faf de Klerk’s bombs were dropping a little short – still contestable but not winning much ground.
The return of Handre Pollard to the starting lineup should bring the Springboks’ kicking game up to par. Scrum half de Klerk will no doubt have his eye in. Once the contest starts it’s important that the Lions win the territorial edge and don’t let the home side work themselves into positions from where they can strike.
- The players forming the South Africa ‘A’ 10/12/13 axis only made 5 passes/offloads combined against the Lions (who had 32 passes from the same positions).
- SA ‘A’ only broke 7 tackles all night, allowing the Lions to finish with a 93% tackle completion rate (South Africa – 87%).
- The hosts conceded 17 penalties + free kicks as well as 2 yellow cards.
- Despite winning possesion 56 times in their opponents’ 22 the Lions only managed to cross for a solitary try – mainly due to some brutally physical defence from the South Africa ‘A’ side.
No Scottish back has played a single minute of game time in a Lions’ Test series in the 21st Century.
The 5 Scots in the matchday squad are the most since there were 7 in the lineup for the 3rd Test against Australia in 1989.
Stuart Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe and Ali Price will be the first Scots to start a match in a Lions’ Test series since Tom Smith against Australia, 14 July 2001.
Rory Sutherland is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match at loosehead prop since Tom Smith against Australia, 14 July 2001 – a gap of 20 years.
Duhan van der Merwe is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match on the wing since Alan Tait against South Africa, 28 June 1997 – a gap of 24 years.
Stuart Hogg is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match at full back since Gavin Hastings against New Zealand, 3 July 1993 – a gap of 28 years.
Ali Price is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match at scrum half since Roy Laidlaw against New Zealand, 16 July 1983 – a gap of 38 years.
Lions’ lineup by club*
Gallagher Premiership – 7
Bath – 1; Bristol – 1; Exeter – 2; Northampton – 2; Sale – 1.
Greene King IPA Championship – 4
Saracens – 4
United Rugby Championship – 12
Edinburgh – 3; Glasgow – 1; Leinster – 3; Munster – 2; Ospreys – 1; Scarlets – 2.
Springboks’ lineup by club*
Gallagher Premiership – 2
Sale – 2.
Top 14 – 5
Montpellier – 1; Pau – 1; Toulon – 1; Toulouse – 2.
Top League – 4
Honda Heat – 1; Kubota Spears – 1; Toyota Verblitz – 1; Yamaha Jubilo.
United Rugby Championship – 12.
Bulls – 1; Munster – 1; Sharks – 4; Stormers – 6.
– Ox Nche and Rynhardt Elstadt are the only players in the Springboks’ 23 who were not part of their RWC squad in 2019.
– There are 13 players in the South African matchday squad who played in the World Cup final win over England including 11 men who will have started both matches.
– All 9 English players in the Lions’ lineup featured in that RWC final defeat to the Springboks.
– 12 of the Home Nations’ side have previously won Test caps for the Lions’ – 6 starters and 6 players on the bench.
– This will be Alun Wyn Jones’ 20th Test match appearance against South Africa.
– By contrast, Duhan van der Merwe, Jack Conan, Rory Sutherland and Tadhg Beirne will all be facing the Springboks for the first time in their careers.
Referee: Nic Berry (RA)
Assistant Referee 1: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR)
Assistant Referee 2: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)
This quartet of officials will take charge of all three Tests with the onfield trio rotating as referee for one game each.
* team most recently played for in the case of players moving this summer