SA and Lions' coaches make changes for final test

9 months ago 3611
Bundee AkiCentre Bundee Aki will make his first appearance in the Test series, while Owen Farrell (left) misses out on the squad

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has made sweeping changes to his matchday squad for Saturday's decisive third Test against South Africa.

Hooker Ken Owens, prop Wyn Jones, scrum-half Ali Price, centre Bundee Aki, wing Josh Adams and full-back Liam Williams all start in Cape Town.

Fly-half Finn Russell, lock Adam Beard and number eight Sam Simmonds come into the 23 for the first time this series.

Owen Farrell, Taulupe Faletau, Anthony Watson and Stuart Hogg are out of the squad.

After winning the first Test 22-17, the Lions were humbled 27-9 in the second to set up a winner-takes-all clash this weekend.

"The matchday 23 have an incredibly special opportunity in front of them - to seal a Lions series victory in South Africa," said Gatland.

"It doesn't get much bigger than this and we're excited by the challenge that faces us on Saturday.

"We've no excuses from last week - the Springboks put us under pressure in the second half and deserved the win. We have to be much better than that second-half performance, and I believe we will be."

Following the second Test humbling, captain Alun Wyn Jones said he expected Gatland to make widespread changes, and the Lions boss has been true to form, changing six of the starting XV and dramatically altering the complexion of the bench.

Prop Rory Sutherland, flanker Tadgh Beirne and centre Chris Harris also drop out of the 23.

Up front, loose-head Jones will make his Lions Test debut after recovering from injury, while Owens has been preferred to Luke Cowan-Dickie, who drops to the bench.

Tight-head prop Kyle Sinckler has been named as a replacement - his citing for an alleged bite in the second Test was dismissed at his disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.

The back five of the scrum remains unchanged, but the backline has been reconfigured, with Aki making his first appearance in a Lions Test series, and the Welsh pair of Adams and Williams coming into the back three after the Lions were dismantled by the South Africa kicking game last weekend.

Beard, a late call-up to the tour, is rewarded for strong performances in the warm-up with a place on the bench, while the creativity of Russell and the pace of Simmonds are preferred to the experience of Farrell and Faletau.

Du Toit and De Klerk miss out for Springboks

Talismanic scrum-half Faf de Klerk and reigning world player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit both miss out on the Springboks side through injury.

Former Northampton scrum-half Cobus Reinach starts at nine, while lock Franco Mostert switches to blind-side flanker.

The influential Sale lock Lood de Jager starts in the second row alongside Eben Etzebeth.

Meanwhile, veteran fly-half Morne Steyn comes into the matchday squad, 12 years after his long-range penalty clinched the 2009 series against the Lions.

Despite returning to the set-up this week after injury, Duane Vermeulen is not included in the 23.

British and Irish Lions: Williams; Adams, Henshaw, Aki, Van der Merwe; Biggar, Price; Jones, Owens, Furlong, Itoje, A Wyn Jones (c), Lawes, Curry, Conan

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Vunipola, Sinckler, Beard, Simmonds, Murray, Russell, Daly

South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, Reinach; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, De Jager, Kolisi (c), Mostert, Wiese

Replacements: Marx, Nyakane, Koch, Van Staden, Smith, Jantjies, Steyn, Willemse

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