Lions will try to keep the Test series opener as cagey as possible

<strong>SOUTH AFRICA</strong> vs. <strong>BRITISH LIONS</strong><br />FIRST TEST - TOMORROW 2PM - SKY SPORTS 1<br /><br />IAN MCGEECHAN will be happy with his side&rsquo;s 100 per cent record going into the first Test against the Springboks, but with some bookies as short as 1/3 for a South Africa victory at Durban&rsquo;s ABSA Stadium tomorrow, it&rsquo;s certain that the &lsquo;Boks will be a much tougher proposition. Boylesports are just 6/5 for a 3-0 South Africa series whitewash and the Lions know they will have to fight tooth and nail if they are to get one up on the current world champions.<br /><br />The warm-up matches have given us mixed clues as to how the Lions will cope. Fans back home have had some frights, not least against the Western Province last Saturday, but the side have managed to stay focused under pressure. The starting XV has now been decided, and McGeechan has picked a defensively strong team. As we know from Tuesday&rsquo;s warm-up against the Southern Kings, they will be able to deal with the probable rough treatment handed out by the likes of Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield.<br /><br />The Springboks on the other hand are somewhat of an unknown quantity. Since their World Cup triumph two years ago, we&rsquo;ve seen them demonstrate awesome power, most memorably when inflicting a record 42-6 Twickenham defeat on England in November. We&rsquo;ve also seen them limp to a 14-10 win against Scotland at Murrayfield though, as well as suffer back-to-back defeats against New Zealand and Australia in their home country. In fact, the Australia match in August was the last time the South Africans played in Durban, a venue that many will remember as the place where Jeremy Guscott&rsquo;s fantastic drop-goal secured the 1997 series for the Lions. Not only will the Springboks be up against a team fully prepared for a fierce tie, but they may have to work hard to dismiss the memories of the last time this fixture played out on the same stage.<br /><br />Durban is the only Test to be played at sea-level and is certainly the best chance for a Lions success, but I have a feeling that their opposition will prove to be simply too powerful in attack. However, at a best-priced 2/5 I can&rsquo;t see the value in backing the hosts outright. I do believe it will be closer than expected and think a much better bet lies in the handicap markets - so will be backing the Lions to win with a +7 start at 10/11 with Boylesports. The Lions have faced the Springboks twice in Durban, on the 1962 and 1997 tours, and on both occasions just three points separated the teams &ndash; the &lsquo;Boks earning a 3-0 victory in &rsquo;62 and the Lions triumphing 18-15 twelve years ago. Furthermore, the Lions have fared reasonably well in opening Tests against their hosts, winning the first Test three times in the six series against South Africa.<br /><br />Elsewhere, the opening Test has often proved a tight fixture. Although the Lions suffered a heavy defeat against New Zealand in the opener four years ago, the touring party managed to hold their opposition to just 21 points (final score 21-3) before the All Blacks really found their groove in the second and third Tests to win 48-18 and 39-19 respectively. The teams seem more evenly-matched in defence this time round, and the extra match practice afforded to the Lions must count for something. Tries will be hard to come by for both sides and I suggest a sell of total points at 40 with Sporting Index.<br /><br /><strong>POINTERS...</strong><br />Lions to win (+7 handicap) at 10/11 with Boylesports <br />Sell total points at 40 with Sporting Index