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Nic Ladds 25th Jun 2009 - 14:45

Burger back to make mincemeat out of Lions

After suffering nothing short of a battering in the first Test the Lions need to regroup and with a few changes made the tourists are at odds of 9/4 to record a victory.

The deceptive 26-21 score line flattered the Lions as they only managed to score a couple of tries once South Africa had taken their most threatening players off.

The Springboks were on top in nearly every department, as we feared they dominated the line-out and the maul, poor Phil Vickery didn't know what had hit him and many will fancy the home side at 1/3 in the betting.

Let's have a look at the line-ups and see what changes have been made:

South Africa:15 Francois Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Adi Jacobs, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Lions: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Just one change for South Africa with Schalk Burger coming in at flanker for Heinrich Brüssow which probably strengthens their line-up and shows how strong they are as Brussow played well and even score a try in the first Test.

The Lions meanwhile make five changes, notably Phil Vickery and Lee Mears are not even in the squad, same for Ugo Monye, while Lee Byrne is injured and Alun Wyn-Jones drops to the bench.

Looking at the line-ups this writer for one is worried. A handicap giving the Lions an 8 point head start should look big at 10/11 with South Africa 10/11 giving up 8 points, but it doesn't, it may not be enough.

Statisticians will throw the fact around that Ian McGeechan has never lost the second Test in two tours as a player and four as head coach.

While that may be true, it is going to take a lot more than superstition to overcome the might of South Africa and cook up a Lions victory.

The Springboks forwards are simply awesome and a while bringing in Adam Jones and Matthew Rees looks a good move, it surely is too late for Simon Shaw to make a huge difference?

The 36-year-old will need to do his stuff early on in the game as since they are playing at such altitude as Loftus Versfeld at 1753 metres above sea level, this could well have an adverse affect on all the Lions as the game goes on.

Bryan Habana who plays all his home games at Loftus Versfeld has played down the significance of this, but you can be sure it will make a difference.

Habana had a quiet first Test but will still have punters piling in to the 9/1 on offer about him to score the first try with JP Pietersen 10/1 and last week's first try scorer John Smit a whopping 50/1 to power his way over the line again, but the 8/1 about an anytime score could be more realistic.

South Africa's forwards should again be too much for the Lions and while they can only improve on their poor line-outs and scrummaging last time, it will take a lot of improvement to trouble the Springboks.

Schalk Burger and Juan Smith are certainly two to consider to score at anytime at 7/2 and 11/4 respectively.

It is hard to see how the Lions changes will really alter things much, Rob Kearney is a worthy replacement for Lee Byrne, as is Luke Fitzgerald for Monye, although Fitzgerald's kicking game is wildly inconsistent and any slicing back to the likes of the huge kicking Fran Steyn will result in a lot of hearts-in-mouths moments.

Kearney and Fitzgerald are 3/1 and 9/4 respectively to score a try, with Tommy Bowe 9/4 and the most likely creator and danger of Lions play, Brian O'Driscoll 5/2.

The best value though could be with the excellent Tom Croft to go over having scored two in the last Test; the powerful flanker could get on the end of some productive Lions play again at 7/2.

The winning margin last time ended up in the minimum bracket and a home win by 1-5 points this time is 11/2 with 6-10 and 11-15 points margins joint 9/2 favourites.

A small investment this time though on 16-20 points at 7/1 could be the call as the South African team last time was meant to be "half baked" and the players not match fit and look what happened in the first half, a master class where they took the Lions apart and defended heroically, stopping two certain Monye tries, for which the winger has ultimately paid the price by being dropped.

As much as this writer would love to be optimistic about the Lions chances, it is hard to envisage anything other than a solid beating in this second Test.

A great bet looks the Alternative Handicap 2 market which has South Africa giving up 13 points at 7/4, with the Lions 4/9 receiving 13.

Habana on home turf could light up the ground with the first try but a better investment looks Burger to score anytime at 7/2.

For those wanting to back the Lions, Croft to score anytime looks a decent bet at 7/2 or possibly Lions on the second half handicap with +4 points if the Springboks take their big names off again.

McGeechan may have this unbeaten record in second Tests coming in to this game, but by Saturday evening, that stat will be long forgotten and it will just be pride this Lions team are playing for.

Recommendation:
South Africa -13 points - 7/4
Schalk Burger to score a try anytime - 7/2

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