It’s all or nothing for Springboks in second Test against British and Irish Lions
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CAPE TOWN – It’s all or nothing this weekend.
With so much at stake in the second Test of the Series between the Springboks and the British & Irish Lions, the Boks simply have to get the win to stay in the running, while the Lions will be driven by this simple fact – if they secure another victory over the world champions, they have claimed the Series.
Last week, the tourists claimed a 22-17 win at Cape Town Stadium in the opening Test, so the pressure is on the hosts as they have everything to lose if things don’t go their way in the second fixture.
So, with that in mind, here are five players who could have a big say in how things go down in the Mother City on Saturday (kick-off 6pm).
He was solid during the first half as the Bok pivot was his usual dependable self as he slotted four penalties but, just like the Boks in general, he looked different after the break, missing a conversion and a penalty.
It’s not as if a goal-kicker can ever go into a game not wanting to connect every shot at goal, but accuracy off the tee is going to be absolutely crucial for the Boks tomorrow, and that’s where Pollard is going to be key.
Last week, he was part of the new front row that came on at half time despite a strong first-half display from Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane, and this week, he will have to make an impact right from the start.
He will have to get even with the Lions’ Mako Vunipola, who will start for the tourists this week after he helped steady their scrum when he came off the bench, also winning a scrum penalty against Malherbe in the latter stages of the second half. Basically, the World Cup-winner just needs to show why he is the Boks’ first choice No 3.
The Springbok superstar had a quiet outing by his standards in the opening Test, but he did put in the effort, especially in the air, where he chased the Boks’ high balls but couldn’t get much done after that as the Lions simply smothered him.
He will no doubt make it his mission to make-up for the brilliance he didn’t produce last weekend, and if he gets it right, the result could be very different to the first Test’s.
Just like Pollard, Biggar will of course want to make sure he gives his side every possible chance at points when he lines up behind the kicking tee. In such a big game, every point will count. He kicked especially well out of hand and varied his contributions off the boot. More of the same will be the goal.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this man alone can win or lose the game for the Lions. Last week, he was all over – contesting the lineouts, of course, poaching at the rucks , monster defence…he was just everywhere. Expect him to be another big feature in the game.
Springboks: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse
Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg 14 Anthony Watson 13 Chris Harris 12 Robbie Henshaw 11 Duhan van der Merwe 10 Dan Biggar 9 Conor Murray 8 Jack Conan 7 Tom Curry 6 Courtney Lawes 5 Alun Wyn Jones 4 Maro Itoje 3 Tadhg Furlong 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens 17 Rory Sutherland18 Kyle Sinckler 19 Tadhg Beirne 20 Taulupe Faletau 21 Ali Price 22 Owen Farrell 23 Elliot Daly