The crucial second test of the British & Irish Lions’ tour takes place in Wellington Saturday, with the visitors needing to bounce back from defeat last week to keep alive the chance of a series victory.
Both sides have made changes. The All Blacks bringing two players into their back line because of injury, while the Lions have had a strategic rethink.
In comes Tour captain Sam Warburton and English lock Maro Itoje to add dynamism to the pack, but it’s the selection of both Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell as the back line axis which has prompted much discussion. This will be the first time this partnership has started in New Zealand.
This revamped back line is a surprise, and smacks of desperation. The backs caused the ABs trouble in the first Test, and Ben Te’o (who has been dropped) made yards with the ball as well as being defensively sound.
The Lions will have to win the forward battle for this back line to be effective, something they couldn’t do last time.
We at Lap of the Odds think everything points to a New Zealand win, and a healthy one at that.
It’s tricky to predict the margin of the likely AB win, but if the Sexton/Farrell partnership can’t stop Sonny Bill Williams from offloading then there will be space on the outside. We saw how lethal winger Rieko Ioane was in the first Test, and we will take 22/1 with Paddy Power that he scores at least three tries.
As an aside, Paddy Power also offers 400/1 that Lions’ hooker Jamie George scores a hat-trick of tries. This is as unlikely as the odds suggest, but if the Lions do get the line out maul working…
Recommendation: Ioane to score three tries at 22/1, 1 pt, Paddy Power
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