Four years since their infamous draw in Auckland resulted in a tied series in New Zealand; the British & Irish Lions are back in Test action on Saturday when they take on South Africa in Cape Town.

The Lions take on the reigning world champions for the second straight series, but the wider global situation means that neither team's build-up has been ideal.

There will be no space for excuses on Saturday, though, with both teams desperate to lay down a marker for the remainder of what promises to be a titanic three-Test series.

South Africa vs British & Irish Lions Betting Odds - 1st Test

It has been a fraught tour for both sides, and it's somewhat of a relief that they have made it this far following previous fears that the series could be cancelled.

Hosts South Africa are 21/20 to win the first Test but will be confident about their chances, having triumphed 17-13 when an 'A' side featuring the majority of Saturday's team met a strong Lions team earlier this month.

A full 11 of their starting XV also overcame England 32-12 in the final of the 2019 World Cup.

The tourists are the 1/1 favourites to win on Saturday but have a poor record in their more recent opening Tests.

With little to choose between the teams, the tie is also a viable option at 22/1.

South Africa vs British & Irish Lions Teams -  1st Test

Unsurprisingly, South Africa have opted for physicality with their selection, while experience is not in short supply, with 11 of those who started the 2019 World Cup making the XV.

The big news is that inspirational captain Siya Kolisi has now left isolation and is ready to start, while fly-half Handre Pollard will win his 50th cap.

The fear for Jacques Nienaber will be that only two of his backs have played a Test since 2019, although in contrast, his pack come battle-hardened.

Warren Gatland looks set to try and counter the Boks' power with dynamism and mobility, picking a team to play with tempo from the off.

Wyn Jones has got the nod at tighthead prop, while Jack Conan and Luke Cowan-Dickie also start.

Scrum-half Ali Price has been given the nod, probably due to the speed of his pass, while Elliot Daly will be desperate to justify the faith shown in him after getting the nod in his preferred position of outside centre.

South African-born Scottish International Duhan van der Merwe is sure to be targeted, but his form suggests he could shine in Cape Town, scoring five times already this tour.

South Africa vs British & Irish Lions Prediction - 1st Test

South Africa to Win - BET NOW

 

Despite the class in past squads, there is no hiding from the fact that the Lions have lost the opening Test on three of their last four tours.

Injuries and other issues mean that the tourists' starting XV has had limited time together, and a week on the training ground is not enough to build the requisite combinations to beat the world champions.

The Springboks have also had their issues in the build-up to the first Test, while a lot of their players have seen their minutes on the field limited by the pandemic.

That might be why they have opted for a familiar line-up, and they could well turn the tables in Cape Town.

Like in the 'A' fixture, expect them to come out fast and build a lead they can hold on to.

South Africa to Win by 1-10 - BET NOW

 

South Africa are the masters at keeping the scores low, and their power up front and Pollard's reliable right boot means they can always keep the scoreboard ticking over.

While it is true that some of their big guns come into this game fresh after not having a recent hit-out, that just fuels the theory that their forwards will limit the amount of ball provided to their backs.

The Lions will want to play with tempo, as England attempted to do in the 2019 World Cup final and stopping them will be key to the host's plans.
South Africa edged the first Test in 2009 26-21, and it could be a similar story on Saturday.

Cheslin Kolbe - Anytime Tryscorer - BET NOW

 

South Africa may have gone for strength, but in Lukhanyo Am, Makazolo Mapimpi and Willie le Roux, they have skill and speed galore in their outside backs.

However, Cheslin Kolbe, who joined his fellow wing Mapimpi in scoring in the World Cup final win against England, is the star of the show.

Talented enough to have occasionally played fly-half for European Champions Toulouse, the 27-year-old belies his relatively diminutive frame to regularly embarrass those he comes up against.

His direct opponent on Saturday will be Van der Merwe in a real David vs Goliath clash. The Boks are likely to have a plan in place to double-up on the Scotland international in defence but conversely, they will want to give Kolbe as much freedom as they can to dance past his more physical rival.

South Africa vs British & Irish Lions Betting Tips -  1st Test

1. South Africa to Win - BET NOW

2. South Africa to Win by 1-10 - BET NOW

3. Cheslin Kolbe - Anytime Tryscorer - BET NOW

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