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Lions v South Africa A preview: Prediction, line-ups, kick off time


It has been billed as an unofficial Test as the hosts have named a formidable team comprising 18 members of the World Cup winning squad two years ago. A victory tonight won’t count towards the series result, but a commanding performance tonight could prove decisive in the lead up to next week’s curtain raiser.

Date, kick-off time and where to watch

Kick off is at 7pm UK time and will be live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Rugby. Highlights will be available on All4.

Venue

The tour descends on Cape Town having started at altitude in Johannesburg and Pretoria for the first three matches. Tonights venue is the 55,000 capacity Cape Town Stadium, a stone’s throw away from the crashing waves of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, those seats will remain empty due to the a third wave of Covid in the country.

Teams

Lions

Anthony Watson (E), Louis Rees-Zammit (W), Chris Harris (S), Bundee Aki (I), Josh Adams (W), Dan Biggar (W), Conor Murray (c) (I), Wyn Jones (W), Ken Owens (W), Kyle Sinkler (E), Maro Itoje (E), Iain Henderson (I), Josh Navidi (W), Tom Curry (E), Taulupe Faletau (W)

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie (E), Mako Vunipola (E), Zander Fagerson (S), Adam Beard (W), Tadgh Beirne (I), Sam Simmonds (E), Gareth Davies (W), Eliot Daly (E)

Maro Itoje is part of a formidable second row partnership for the Lions

/ Getty Images

Conor Murray will make his first start since being named as the Lions’ captain following Alun Wyn Jones’ injury against Japan last month. The Irish scrum-half will be joined by Dan Biggar at half-back, the same combination Gatland used in the 28-10 win over the Brave Blossoms at Murrayfield.

There are similarly strong combinations around the park. Maro Itoje and Ian Henderson offer a bruising union at second row while Bundee Aki and Chris Harris tick multiple boxes as a centre duo.

Much was made of Gatland’s selections prior to the tour, with some questioning whether his troops could physically match the world champions. Without throwing the baby out with the bath water, Gatland, managing his third tour, has picked a mobile back row with Josh Navidi given the nod for this game after he was a late addition to the squad.

“”We’re pleased to have arrived in Cape Town as we near the halfway stage of the series,” Gatland said.

“Wednesday’s game against South Africa A will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we’re looking forward to it,” Gatland said. “We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time. I think we’ve benefited from playing at altitude in the first three games. While the boys have felt it in their lungs, they’ll be all the better for it now we’re at sea level.


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