With the British and Irish Lions tour 2017 of New Zealand now underway, what are the chances of the Lions returning home with victory?
The first thing to note about the Lions Tour 2017 is the extremely tough schedule. Just 80 hours after a very long flight, the players were asked to play their first match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.
Despite not playing well, which is hardly surprising given the fact some players will still struggling to get any sleep at night, the Lions won the match 13-7. It was a successful start to the tour in terms of the result, if not the performance.
The second match of the Lions Tour 2017 against Super Rugby team The Blues, looked much tougher and that’s how it proved to be. A much improved first half performance from the Lions, in difficult conditions went unrewarded, as they went in 12-10 down at the interval.
In the second half, the Lions briefly fought back to take the lead. However a late try from the Blues secured a 22-16 win for the hosts.
Lions Tour 2017 First Test
The first test against the All Blacks is not until the 24th June. The Lions still have a lot of rugby ahead of them before that match. Players will be putting themselves on the line. There will be playing matches against top Super Rugby teams in a bid to win a place in the starting XV.
Toughest test against The Crusaders
By the time the first test match kicks off, the Lions will have played a total of six games, on a Saturday to Wednesday basis. In every match but one, the Lions go in as favourites to win with the bookmakers. The toughest Lions' match coming against the Crusaders. The Crusaders reached the quarter-finals of Super Rugby last season. They are currently undefeated this campaign. The Crusaders are priced at 8/11 to win the match with PaddyPower. The Lions are available at 6/5.
125/1 for the Lions to win all remaining Matches
Given the opening two results of the tour, the Lions can now win a maximum of 9 matches. You can get 125/1 with William Hill for the Lions to win all their remaining matches. This would mean they head home having won 9 of their 10 games.
It goes without saying that the focus of the Lions Tour 2017 coaching staff and players is on the matches against New Zealand. Come home with a series victory over the All Black and every other result on the tour will be long forgotten.
All Blacks Stats don't Lie
However, New Zealand are extremely tough to beat, especially on home soil. For a start, New Zealand’s win percentage going into this series is 77.09%. That’s not just taking into consideration home matches. That figure considers every test match New Zealand have played between 1903 and November 2016.
The All Blacks have only lost one of their previous twenty-two test matches. That defeat came against Ireland in Chicago
towards the end of 2016. The last time the Lions toured New Zealand was back in 2005. The All Blacks hosts won the series 3-0. Only once have the Lions defeated New Zealand in a test series and that came back in 1971. That makes it just one win for the Lions in five attempts against the All Blacks.
Therefore, it is little surprise to see New Zealand start the series as favourites. The All Blacks are available at 1/5 with Ladbrokes to come out on top.
However, only once have the Lions returned home from a tour in New Zealand without recording at least one victory against their opponents.
Series Betting Opportunities
The Lions Tour 2017 have a very strong team. A total of 41 players have been chosen and Warren Gatland will be hoping to keep everyone as fresh as possible. The strength in depth is there. Much will rest on the starting XV selected by the Lions coach to take on his home nation.
You can get 13/5 with Betfair for New Zealand to win the series 2-1. This seems like a good bet.
If the Lions Tour 2017 are to come home with a shock series win, it is unlikely they will do it by winning all three test matches. Therefore, if you want to back the Lions to take the series you can at odds of 4/1 with Betfair. The 2-1 series victory is on offer at 6/1 with Ladbrokes.
Top Try Scorer Betting Advice
As mentioned above, much will depend on who Gatland selects in his test team. However one man who should be certain of a place at centre is Jonathan Joseph. The Englishman scored a superb hat trick of tries against Scotland in the Six Nations. Joseph certainly has the speed and agility to cause New Zealand plenty of problems.
George North is favourite out of the Lions squad to be top try scorer priced at 10/1 with BetFred but Joseph makes an intriguing bet at 25/1 and could be the man to push the Lions towards victory. New Zealand’s Julian Savea is the favourite to finish the series as top try scorer at 3/1.
There can be little doubt the British and Irish Lions are up against it in New Zealand and we are in for a thrilling five weeks of rugby as they attempt to defeat the All Blacks.
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