Key battles

By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC.   Last Updated: 28/06/13 12:59am

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The British and Irish Lions may be 80 minutes away from a first series victory in 16 years however they know there is still plenty of work to do.

The Lions clinched a 23-21 victory in the first Test in Brisbane, with George North and Alex Cuthbert scoring tries and Leigh Halfpenny slotting over 13 points.

However head coach Warren Gatland has shown his ruthless side as he looks to wrap up the series in Melbourne by making five changes to his starting XV.

And ahead of the second Test showdown at the Etihad Stadium, we look at the key battles where the game could be won or lost.

Ben Alexander v Mako Vunipola

Ben Alexander

The giant Brumbies tighthead was given a bit of a going over during the first Test so he will be relieved to see that Alex Corbisiero won't be up against him this time out. The 28-year-old will instead look to put the pressure on Mako Vunipola - and Alexander will fancy his chances of exposing the England loosehead's supposed weakness in the scrum. Alexander has a wealth of experience and he will win his 50th cap at the Etihad Stadium.

Mako Vunipola

Vunipola was unlucky not to have started the first Test after some impressive performances on the tour, however Corbisiero got the nod ahead of him due to his scrum expertise. There was a feeling that with Corbisiero now being injured Vunipola could be retained as an impact player off the bench, with Ryan Grant starting. Vunipola, though, gets his chance and he will be champing at the bit to prove a point after a difficult spell off the bench in Brisbane.

Israel Folau v George North

Israel Folau

For those that hadn't been fortunate enough to see Folau in action for the Waratahs during the Super Rugby season - he is currently joint top of the try-scoring charts with eight from 14 games - he showcased his undoubted talent on the biggest stage. He took his two tries brilliantly in Brisbane - Jonny Sexton will have nightmares about the second - and was a menace throughout an enthralling encounter.

George North

North, though, had more than enough moments of his own during the match. His first try was right out of the top drawer and highlighted just why the Lions medical staff had been working around the clock to get him fit for the first Test. The 21-year-old was unlucky not to have scored a second - with the slightest of touches to the sideline denying him. Folau might have scored two but North was on hand to deny him a third during the second half.

Ben Mowen v Dan Lydiate

Ben Mowen

While the debut of Folau might have captured the imagination, the performance of fellow Australia new boy Mowen was equally effective - if not as eye-catching. Mowen was given a specific role of preventing Mike Phillips from playing around the fringes and he followed it to the letter, so much so that the Lions have changed No 9s for the second Test. Mowen, who weighed in with 11 tackles, might have his work cut out against the livelier Ben Youngs, though.

Dan Lydiate

While Phillips was marked out of the contest at the Suncorp Stadium, opposite number Will Genia was able to run riot - proving just why he is arguably the world's leading scrum-half. The Lions have moved to address this with the inclusion of Lydiate, who will be employed in a similar role to Mowen. Lydiate loves to tackle (he has finished top tackler in two of his three starts) and will look to get stuck in around the breakdown to frustrate Genia.

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