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Conan the destroyer to make a big impact: Talking points ahead of the second Lions Test

The side meet in Cape Town once again on Saturday.

HAVING WON THE opening exchange, the British & Irish Lions take on South Africa in the second Test this Saturday. 

To preview the game, Ciaran Kennedy has come up with three talking points along with the latest prices from William Hill… 

Getting Kolbe into the game

It was striking just how little Cheslin Kolbe was involved during the first Test. The Toulouse superstar – who provided a real moment of magic in the Lions’ game against South Africa ‘A’ – only had three carries for a total of eight metres in the entire game.

It is hard to imagine a player of such sublime quality being a peripheral figure again this Saturday, and the world champions will surely look to get the ball into the hands of the brilliant winger more often.

south-africa-v-british-and-irish-lions-castle-lager-lions-series-first-test-cape-town-stadium Cheslin Kolbe. Source: PA

Kolbe is one of the most exciting attacking talents in world rugby, and possesses that rare quality of being able to produce something out of nothing. Of course, he is no one trick pony – Kolbe has a good kicking game and is also an effective defender for a player who is never going to be the most physical winger around.

But he is in the team for his world class ability with ball in hand, and if the Boks are to win the second Test and keep the series alive, Kolbe will surely have a major role to play.

William Hill odds: Cheslin Kolbe anytime try scorer – 6/4

Conan the destroyer

dhl-stormers-v-the-british-and-irish-lions-castle-lager-lions-series-cape-town-stadium Jack Conan. Source: PA

What a year it’s been for Jack Conan. The Leinster backrow has responded to the devastating injury which saw him leave the 2019 World Cup, with his foot in a cast, in superb fashion. He hadn’t played a Test game for 18 months before this year’s Six Nations, where his outstanding performances saw him jump into the Lions conversation.

His form in recent months has been hugely impressive, with Conan full value for his inclusion in the Test team last week.

In many ways, he’s exactly the type of dynamic player Warren Gatland wanted in his backrow. Conan has the skills to be hugely influential regardless of whether Saturday’s game is an arm wrestle or a more free-flowing encounter. He’s a good defender and gets through plenty of dirty work, but he also offers so much in attack and was the Lions leading ball carrier last week (12). He has good hands, an eye for the try line, and an impressive turn of pace for a man of his size. 

He was one of the Lions most influential players in Cape Town last week – earning the plaudits of his head coach – and looks well placed to make a big impact again in the second Test.

William Hill odds: Jack Conan man of the match – 14/1

Lions have power in reserve

The strength of the Lions bench proved a key point of difference in the first Test, with the tourists packing far more quality in reserve than their hosts.

Front row pair Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola – who starts this week – made a big impact while the experienced duo of Conor Murray and Owen Farrell brought control when calm heads were needed in the closing stages. 

south-africa-v-british-and-irish-lions-castle-lager-lions-series-first-test-cape-town-stadium Mako Vunipola. Source: PA

For the second Test, the Lions bench is once again stacked with players who can make a difference and change the momentum of a game.

With Murray promoted to the first 15 this week, Ali Price will look to lift the tempo if introduced. Tadhg Beirne can cause havoc around the breakdown against tired legs and minds, while Taulupe Faletau will also be keen to impress having missed out on the squad for the first Test, his inclusion over Hamish Watson among the replacements one of Gatland’s more intriguing calls.

South Africa simply don’t have the same strength or experience in reserve – with a total of 177 Test caps on the Boks’ bench compared to the over 450 Test caps shared by the Lions’ replacements. If it’s another tight game heading into the final quarter, the Springboks will have a real task in dealing with the quality of the Lions bench.

William Hill odds: Lions to win by 6-10 points – 11/2

William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org    

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