The British Lions head to Sydney after losing the second Test by a point last weekend to give Betpal its fourth winning rugby tip in a row. With the series poised at 1-1, the third Test is the decider. Here’s what we think will happen…

Recommendation

Australia to win the Third Test versus the British Lions Evens Stan James

In the second test match last weekend the Australians were good value for their win as these statistics show:

The Lions did not make a single clean break past the Aussie defence

Ball won in open play Aus 100, Lions 53

Ball won in Opponents 22 Aus 28 Lions 5

Offloads when in possession Aus 9 Lions 3

Passes made Aus 150 Lions 70

Basically the Lions were lucky to only lose by a point, and in my opinion played not to lose. This back-fired but only just. This is the background to their third test selection which means the Lions need to attack to win, and free up creative players. The Team features 10 Welshmen and 6 changes from Melbourne including the very suprising dropping of Brian O’Driscoll.

This is the first time in the 15 years since O’Driscoll was selected for International rugby that has been dropped when fit, and signals the beginning of the end for a talismanic and iconic figure, probably the best Northern Hemisphere rugby player of his generation

It is a huge call by Gatland, one that will define this tour either way.

The Team selected is full of ball carriers, designed to eradicate the flaws of last weekend with the likes of Falateau over Heaslip, Jamie Roberts returning and picked to get over the gain line, create go forward and give momentum in attack, of which there was none last time.

What it appears to lack is any sort of guile whatsoever, and I believe this is crucial as in International Rugby these days well marshalled defences can cope with structured attack as long as they have pairty in the set piece, which over two Tests the Australians have shown.

Alun Wyn Jones has been selected as Captain and this is another big one. O’Driscoll was the obvious candidate and if you look through the Lions 15 it is short of leaders and talkers on the field. It is a huge call for Wyn Jones to galvanise this team as captain with three days notice

The Australians will not be worried. They will reckon they can tackle Lion battering rams all day and as we have seen in both games so far just have that bit more flair when it matters. Their own selection policy is in contrast to the Lions. Only one change, and that to recall veteran openside George Smith.

Both of these teams would lose by 20-30 points to the All Blacks but it is going to be close, again and in the last 48 hours the Aussies, underdogs in both the first two tests and priced as a “pick em” after the second test have gone marginal odds on favourites with most firms. I think this is probably correct

I selected the Australians to win the series, and suggested a score of 2-1, ina preview before the first Test and see no reason to alter from that now.

Rugby Union these days is a game of patterns. Teams go from set piece (scrum and line out) through orchestrated phases of play. The problem is that for a well drilled opponent, this can be easy to defend and the attacking team then relies on possession, territory and goal-kicking. Largely this is the Gatland strategy.

However in Falau, Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor especially the Australian team has that little bit more. The ability to create attacks out of nothing and to break up the pattern of play and the Lions defensive lines.

When push comes to shove on Saturday evening in Sydney, I believe that flair will just about win the day

Recommendation

Australia to win the Third Test versus the British Lions Evens Stan James