The British and Irish Lions were forced to ride their luck during a bruising encounter in the first test match against Australia, winning by just two points.
They only need to win one more match to secure a series victory, yet at 4/1 a home side that caused the tourists so many problems at the Suncorp Stadium look a nice price to overturn the deficit and take the series 2-1.
If not for some wayward work from the boot of Kurtley Beale the Wallabies would have come home four points to the good of Warren Gatland’s men and they will take plenty of heart from the way they stood up to the pumped-up visitors.
The Aussies sustained a real battering, further bolstering the Lions’ chances of series victory when losing Christian Leali’ifano, Berrick Barnes and Pat McCabe to injury, but the hosts showed an ability to reconfigure and adapt in that fixture that will stand them in good stead in the remaining games.
In contrast the Lions were comparatively fortuitous when it came to injuries, but the loss of experienced forward Paul O’Connell – who was on his third tour – will be a big one.
Injuries were not the only way in which the tourists rode their luck in the first test, with Brian O’Driscoll lucky to escape caution for a cheeky off the ball check which stopped James O’Connor from closing down try-scorer Alex Cuthbert. They will do well to lead such a charmed life for the rest of the series.
The Lions’ previous performance – when losing 14-12 to the Brumbies – suggested that resources beyond Gatlands’ first team were nothing for the Australians to be losing sleep over and although Toby Faletau in particular had a better game against the Rebels, that opposition were of an inferior standard to the Canberra outfit.
Beale may have been painted as the villain of the piece for his first test penalty slip-up, but he went some way to erasing his controversial recent history (which includes beating up two of his Melbourne teammates and a spell in rehab) with an impressive performance off the bench in Brisbane.
Having him in from the start for the second test will give the beleaguered Aussies a boost, although the performance of league convert Israel Folau proves they have a new potential match-winner in their ranks.
Ladbrokes will be offering money back as a free bet on losing first tryscorer and winning margin bets if Lions’ first-test-scorers George North or Alex Cuthbert register the first or last try in the second clash of the series and Folau could be an attractive wager in this market. Terms and conditions can be found here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.