Rugby Betting: Back the Lions to defeat the Force
The British & Irish Lions faced two opponents in their opening game on Saturday and dealt with both in admirable fashion. The physical threat of the Barbarians was more than matched, with the 59-8 scoreline only just reflecting their superiority. Indeed, a bigger problem was the heat and humidity, with prop Adam Jones likening the conditions to playing with heartburn. That they came through without injuries will be a great bonus, although privately the tour management are more concerned than they are letting on about the knee injury which kept captain Sam Warburton out of that game and which also keeps him out of Wednesday’s clash in Perth with Western Force.
Veteran Irish centre Brian O’Driscoll takes the reigns for that game and will be partnered in the centre by England’s Manu Tuilagi. One of the noticeable things about Saturday’s game was the way that the Lions put together a number of incisive moves but then had the final pass go astray. With O’Driscoll, Leigh Halfpenny at full back and Jonathan Sexton at fly half, the Lions side will have the spine of the back division expected to start the first Test on display and it will be interesting to see whether Tuilagi can stake a claim to the inside centre berth ahead of Jamie Roberts, who had a good if unspectacular match against the Barbarians. He’s a 13/8 shot with BetFred to do so.
The Lions are currently a best price of 1/20 betting odds with William Hill to win this, which is probably a little on the short side. Although Western Force have struggled for consistency in the Super XV competition, they have had the wrong end of some close matches against sides much higher up the table than they are. That suggests that they are a team who love a big occasion and that, therefore, the 25/1 that SkyBet are offering on a home win might be worth a small wager on.
The best betting options for this game, though, look to be in the winning margin, where a Lions win by 11-20 points is currently a keenly priced 11/4 with Ladbrokes. Even though the conditions will be easier - fly half Owen Farrell predicted that the 20-degree temperature would make it feel like winter - they will be up against a side who will be much better organised in both attack and defence and who will be much more familiar with one another than the Barbarians were.
Looking at the tour generally, Alex Cuthbert’s two tries in Hong Kong helped his chances of becoming top tryscorer and he’s now a best price of 9/4 with William Hill. However, it is important to remember that this is a market which focuses on the whole tour, not just the Tests, and it might be easier to pick up tries in the midweek games than during the internationals themselves. Whilst Cuthbert is almost nailed on for a wing berth come 22 June - so much so that on Saturday it was he who kept his favored right wing spot and Sean Maitland who was shunted out to the left - it may be worthwhile looking at Tommy Bowe for your sports picks, who is a prolific international scorer and who starts against Western Force, at 6/1 with Ladbrokes, or even Maitland at 12/1 with the same bookmaker.