Rugby-Jones expects Boks to revert to type and push for set-piece dominance

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - International Test - British and Irish Lions v Japan - Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain - June 26, 2021 British and Irish Lions' Alun Wyn Jones with a trophy after the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - British & Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones expects wounded South Africa to put more emphasis on the set-piece in the second test as they try to wrestle control in the game and level the three-match series in Cape Town.

The Springboks started the better in the opening match of the series and led 12-3 at halftime, but the Lions clawed their way back into the contest with scrum domination and an accurate kicking game that proved decisive in the final 22-17 scoreline.

Jones believes the Boks will come flying out the blocks, and says the set-piece, especially with the hosts' 6-2 split on the bench between forwards and backs, means they are likely to focus heavily on what has traditionally been the strength of the team.

"A lot has been said about how they will improve and we are expecting the intensity to go up a notch across the board. But we also feel we have a couple of gears to go up and that has been a large part of our focus this week," Jones told reporters on Thursday.

"Without giving too much away, we will probably continue in a similar vein. We didn’t execute as well as we would have liked in that first half."

Jones added that there will be no surprise in what the South Africans will bring, likening it to the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final when he captained Wales in a defeat against the Boks in a fierce forward battle.

"With them having reverted to a 6-2 it is probably more what we are used to in the way they split their squad. There will probably be an increased emphasis on getting more set-pieces from them.

"They are probably going to try dominate that area and will have more forwards to come on and put authority on that part of the game. That is what we saw from them through the World Cup and before."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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