New Zealand All Blacks v British and Irish Lions: Can Tourists Upset the Odds?

Steve Hansen vs. Warren Gatland

The Preliminaries are over and it’s time for the main event. The British Lions face the first test of the series against New Zealand in Auckland this Saturday and while the tour hasn’t quite gone to plan so far, a morale boosting victory over a strong Chiefs side in midweek promises a better display at Eden Park.

The All Blacks remain hot favourites to take the opening test but how, exactly, are the bookmakers viewing this in the lead up to kick off?

Match Odds

New Zealand head the result betting by some margin and you can currently pick up the home side at best odds of 1/4 with a number of operators including Bet365 and Stan James. A win for the British and Irish Lions is quoted at a top price of 15/4 with MarathonBet and 888Sport while the draw completes this part of the overall betting at a best of 33/1 with Paddy Power and Boylesports.

If you’re convinced, as we are, that New Zealand will win this then the only way to get any real value from the result is to look at the handicap. The Lions’ recent victory over the Chiefs suggests that they are acclimatised and back in form so it may be close. Therefore, New Zealand at -11 on the handicap at Even Money with Paddy Power and Betway could be the best option from this result market.

Individual Try Scorers

First and last try scorer markets aren’t covered as extensively by the bookies when you compare rugby to football but there are some good value options here. Naturally, it’s a market that is dominated by Kiwi players and it starts with Israel Dagg, who is favourite with most bookies to land the first five pointer and available at a top price of 10/1 with Betway.

Dagg is a versatile player who can play in most positions at the back and with a record of 133 points in 62 full internationals, he’s certainly a logical favourite.

Elsewhere, Rieko Ioane can also be picked up at those same best odds of 10/1 with Paddy Power and Betway while Ben Smith follows at a top price of 12/1 with Betway again.

It’s a long way down the list before you come to a Lions player and you should also check these prices with the starting XV that Gatland has picked for the game. Conor Murray appears at a best of 28/1 with SkyBet and Betway to score the first try while Owen Farrell looks a decent prospect having received a price boost from SkyBet that takes him up to an excellent 50/1.

The best option for this match could be to stay with the All Blacks and while there are so many options in this respect, that record for Israel Dagg suggests that this is where we should be placing our money.

Other Side Bets

If you subscribe to the theory that the All Blacks will win but that they could be in for a battle this Saturday then the winning margin market may be one to consider. New Zealand to win this match by between one and seven points is on offer at a top price of 2/1 with BetFred while you could be a little safer and opt for New Zealand by one and ten which is quoted at best odds of 9/4 with Ladbrokes and Coral. This is our final tip and will ‘hedge’ our handicap bet to an extent.

New Zealand aren’t invincible and a number of this Lions squad were in the Irish side that beat the All Blacks in Chicago last year. However, they are the stronger side by some distance and with the tourists’ shaky start being taken into account, it’s impossible to see past the hosts. However, there are signs that the Lions can make things tough so it may be closer than many are expecting and it could lay a platform for Gatland’s men to come into it later on in the series.

Best Bets

  • New Zealand to win at -11 on the handicap at Even Money with Paddy Power.
  • Israel Dagg to score the first try at 10/1 with Betway
  • New Zealand to win by between one and ten points at 9/4 with Ladbrokes
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