A successful start to the British and Irish Lions tour has seen them overcome Japan 28-10 up in Edinburgh, before heading to South Africa to play the Sigma Lions, which they won comfortably 56-14 at Ellis Park Stadium.
The Sharks should be a considerable jump up in quality to what Warren Gatland’s men faced at the weekend, with the Durban based side beating the Sigma Lions in both their Pro14 Rainbow Cup fixtures over May and June.
However, the eight and 12 point winning margins in those games weren’t exactly substantial. The four South African clubs played a round robin tournament in order to see who qualified to play in the final against the winner of the Pro14 Rainbow Cup in Europe, with the Sharks finishing in third place after winning just half their six outings.
Unlike the Sigma Lions, who only lost a handful of players to the South African squad, this Natal outfit will lose all of; Thomas de Toit, Ox Nche, Siya Kolisi, Sanele Nohamba, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Yaw Penxe and Aphelele Fassi. That can only drastically weaken them and the touring side should look to capitalise on that.
British And Irish Lions -24 Point Handicap
The British and Irish Lions have opted to give new recruitment Adam Beard, as well as Josh Navidi and Tom Curry their debuts in the red jersey, while Iain Henderson captains the side.
It looks like one of the strongest teams Gatland has named, with only four more warm-up games before they head into the three game Test series against South Africa and we wouldn’t be surprised for them to notch up a similar 42-point winning margin as they did at the weekend.
The Sharks have now lost four of their last six matches in all competitions, as they crashed out in the Currie Cup to Western Province on Friday and the lack of internationals is undoubtedly taking its toll on Sean Everitt’s men.
With that in mind, the current handicap line of 24 looks very reasonable, especially considering the game isn’t being played at their home stadium in Durban, and everything looks to be pointing the way of the touring side.