Time to press the Bundee button: Talking points ahead of the final Lions Test

With the sides tied at one win apiece, the series will be decided in Cape Town on Saturday.

IT’S 1-1 IN the series so everything comes down to the third and final Test between the British & Irish Lions and South Africa this weekend.

To look ahead to Saturday’s decider, Ciaran Kennedy has picked out his key talking points with the latest prices from William Hill… 

bundee-aki Ireland's Bundee Aki gets the nod. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Gatland presses the Bundee button

For a while it looked as though it might not happen, but Warren Gatland has finally pressed the Bundee button after seeing his Lions team get completely dominated by South Africa last week.

Aki was a surprise pick when the Lions squad was first announced given he had played so little rugby across the Six Nations, but you know exactly what you are going to get when the Connacht centre is in your team, and he’s got many attributes that look suited to troubling the Springboks. He’s strong, aggressive in the carry, and should benefit from having a familiar face in Robbie Henshaw alongside him.

It’s a big ask to keep South Africa’s Damian de Allende under wraps, but Aki will be well up for the challenge on what will be the biggest game of his career so far.

And with the Lions struggling to get midfield dominance last week, a big performance from Aki could help swing the momentum back in the tourists’ favour.

William Hill odds: Lions to win by 1-5 points – was 9/2, enhanced odds 6/1 

Temper, temper

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, this Lions series will be remembered as an ill-disciplined, niggly affair – both on and off the pitch.

After a fiery first Test, Rassie Erasmus’ highly controversial video review only intensified the scrutiny on last week’s referee, Ben O’Keeffe. In the end, much of the post-match discussion following the second Test was centred on off-the-ball incidents and a series of divisive refereeing calls.

south-africa-british-and-irish-lions-rugby Conor Murray is tackled late by Cheslin Kolbe. Halden Krog Halden Krog

Cheslin Kolbe avoided a red card despite taking Conor Murray out in the air. Faf de Klerk appeared to smash the same player with a dangerous high tackle. Stuart Hogg was accused of biting Willie le Roux. Maro Itoje appeared to press his knee into Damian de Allende’s chest. You get the idea…

With a series on the line this weekend, it’s hard to envisage it not being another busy outing for the match officials, and both sides will need to watch their discipline in the final chapter of what has been an ugly Lions tour. Cool heads could go a long way to deciding the series.

William Hill odds: Total cards over 2.5 – 10/3

Back three shake-up

josh-adams-scores-a-try Josh Adams scores a try against the Sigma Lions. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

There were not many Lions players who came out of last week’s 27-9 defeat with much credit, but it was a particularly difficult day at the office for Gatland’s back three. The Lions head coach has reacted by changing two of those three players, with Liam Williams replacing Stuart Hogg at full-back and Josh Adams coming in for Anthony Watson on the right wing – with Duhan van der Merwe lucky to keep hold of the No 11 shirt.

The hope will be that the new faces are able to deal with the Springbok aerial assault – an area of the game which brought the hosts so much joy in the second Test – but also that they can add some attacking threat for the Lions, who have looked desperately blunt with ball in hand.

Last week, the back three of Hogg, Watson and Van der Merwe combined for a total of just three defenders beaten and 37 metres made. The Lions need to get more out of their attacking three if they are to take the series in Cape Town on Saturday.

The Boks will be particularly wary of Adams, who boasts an excellent record of 17 tries in 32 Tests and scored eight tries across four warm-up games for the Lions. The Wales flyer will have been bitterly disappointed to miss the first two Tests, but now gets his chance in the most important game of the tour.

William Hill odds: Josh Adams first try-scorer – 17/2

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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