SATURDAY 31 JULY
South Africa v British and Irish Lions, Cape Town, 5pm (Irish time)
Live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and RTÉ News app.
The match is live on Sky Sports.
Live commentary on RTÉ's 2fm with Donal Lenihan and Michael Corcoran.
Cape Town is set to see clear and sunny conditions, with temperatures around 15C.
We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
A Lions second Test, with the series on the line for the hosts, probably didn't need much spice added to the mix this week.
South Africa, after blowing a 12-3 half-time lead last Saturday, with some questionable substitutions, made by either their head coach Jacques Nienaber or their waterboy-in-chief Rassie Erasmus, are on the verge of losing a Test series against the Lions for just the third time since 1896.
They will be hurting. Deprived of a rare Test match when their second game against Georgia fell foul of Covid-19, and with many players isolating before last week’s game, that first Test will have served to remove some of the cobwebs from an international side that missed out on over a year’s rugby.
Not that it showed early on last weekend.
Nine points up at the break, the hosts skipped off the field more than pleased with their shift before a seismic turnaround by Warren Gatland’s men, the biggest second-half Test comeback for a Lions side in 83 years.
Nienaber and Erasmus will have been scratching their heads wondering what went wrong and how to fix it.
At least that’s what could have been fairly assumed.
Instead, the supposed brains of the operation, director of rugby Erasmus, decided to use his time ranting against the officiating.
His original Twitter post congratulating the Lions following the 22-17 win was magnanimous and suggested they would be looking inward for the answers of how to win the second game.
Thanks. This is rugby - sometimes calls go for you and other times they dont https://t.co/ONZp0uoWJF— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) July 25, 2021
However, a series of bizarre interactions with the mysterious 'Jaco Johan’ account was followed by an appearance at the team announcement where he poured more fuel on the fire.
And Thursday morning saw the release of an hour-long video where he outlined over two dozen perceived injustices.
It was as unbecoming as it was long for a World Cup-winning coach of his standing.
It’s reasonable to assume that its genesis was an honourable attempt to deflect attention away from his players and perhaps their game plan, which appeared to lack any ambition to serve the world’s best finisher, Cheslin Kolbe doing a fine Simon Geoghegan impression on the wing.
The decision to change the front row, after edging the scrum battle, albeit Ox Nché’s misses out through injury this week, was also questioned across the board.
It’s not that the Springboks couldn’t feel hard done by, it’s more that this is not the way to air grievances.
It’s hard to believe it wasn’t meant to do anything other than heap massive pressure on Saturday's referee Ben O’Keeffe and his team. Dignified, it was not.
A win for the Lions would mimic their famous win in 1997 when they edged the second Test to assume an unassailable lead.
However, the hosts have not lost back-to-back Test since suffering defeat to England and New Zealand in 2018.
Both teams have made three changes each.
Conor Murray steps back in the scrum-half slot ahead of Ali Price, Chris Harris gets the nod in the centre ahead of Elliot Daly, while prop Mako Vunipola replaces Rory Sutherland.
The Springboks start props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe and number 8 Jasper Wiese will win just his second Test cap.
Gatland has decided that Murray's calm assurance behind the pack is what’s needed and the Munster man is tasked with keeping a tight ship in the early stages. Faf de Klerk got the better of Murray in the 'A' game so how Murray responds to that augurs well for a fascinating contest.
Tighthead Tadhg Furlong is in the ‘nailed-on’ category, while Jack Conan’s all-round game and consistency has impressed the head coach and the Leinster 8 keeps out erstwhile Gatland favourite Toby Faletau.
Robbie Henshaw retains his place after gaining the New Zealander’s trust over the course of the tour. Tadhg Beirne keeps his spot on the bench providing a range of option across the second and back rows.
WHAT THEY SAID
Rassie Erasmus: "We feel we got no joy from anything because we were quiet last week and they were all over the media. We feel we got no positive results on the field."
Warren Gatland: "We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve. It's the biggest game on the tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it."
South Africa: Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert; Siya Kolisi (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.
Lions: Stuart Hogg; Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe; Dan Biggar, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong; Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (capt); Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Taulupe Faletau, Ali Price, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (NZ)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Aus), Mathieu Raynal (Fra)
TMO: Marius Jonker (SA)