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Do or die for Lions in Wellington

Do or die for Lions in Wellington

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The British & Irish Lions must go for broke in the second Test against New Zealand on Saturday in the hope of keeping the series alive, but their attacking line-up could play into the hands of the All Blacks.

Head coach Warren Gatland already knows you can never please everyone when picking a starting XV for a Lions Test and he has once again come in for criticism, having dropped the impressive Ben Te’o to make room for Johnny Sexton.

Sexton will start at fly-half while Owen Farrell switches to inside-centre and the Lions will hope the game management of two of their leading lights will help them dictate the pace of the game better, having been forced to play the way the All Blacks wanted in Auckland.

Having two precision kickers on the field could also prove useful given the predictions for a wet night in Wellington and it is likely to be a more tactical and kick-filled affair compared to the first Test.

Try-scoring opportunities could be at a premium if the weather forecast is correct and that will help the Lions given their lack of cutting edge at times on this tour.

But New Zealand always seem to find a way to get over the whitewash and have named the battering ram of a winger Waisake Naholo in their starting line-up.

The Lions already know about the power Naholo possess after their meeting with the Highlanders earlier in the tour while Rieko Ioane is fancied to impress again after scoring twice in the first Test.

Wellington is a wide pitch and the two wingers will likely fancy their chances of getting over the line despite the anticipated poor handling conditions.

The reigning world champions’ superior clinical play was the major difference in the first Test and is likely to make the difference again. Farrell’s inclusion at centre could weaken the Lions defensively, especially looking at the way Te’o stopped Sonny Bill Williams in his tracks last week.

The Lions will hope to dominant up front again and will need Maro Itoje and Sam Warburton to have better games carrying the ball than the men they replace, George Kruis and Peter O’Mahoney respectively.

The All Blacks have not lost in Wellington since 2003 when Jonny Wilkinson kicked England to victory and the boot of another Englishman could be crucial if the Lions are to level the series.

New Zealand are 4/5 for the win starting with a minus 13.5 point handicap and that might be a tempting price given they won the first Test by 15 points.

However, this one could be a little closer so take a look at the Lions at 4/5 in the handicap market while New Zealand at 13/5 to win by between one and 10 points should also be a consideration.

It will take something special to keep the series alive for the Lions and although there have been signs they could challenge the mighty All Blacks, it might not be enough to win the second Test.

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Gareth Freeman Gareth is our daily tipster, who has years of successful sports betting behind him and is always on hand to offer a value bet. As well as a passion for Football (UK and European), he also has in-depth Tennis, Boxing, Snooker and Basketball knowledge.