June International Tours

Hook penalty saves Lions the WP blushes


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A late penalty by James Hook prevented a draw between the Lions and Western Province and sealed a 23-26 victory for the Lions as they remained unbeaten on their 2009 tour of South Africa.


Lions defence coach Shaun Edwards will be pleased that his defence managed to keep South African teams tryless for 140 minutes. In the Lions past two matches they have only conceded one try.


The visitors, 18-12 ahead at the break, scored three tries to one.

They were undoubtedly the better side on the day although they will admit that this wasn’t their best performance of the tour. There was, however, enough to please them.


Although not in control, the Lions had most of the possession, played the more clever rugby and built on their first four wins to go into the week before the Test unbeaten.


The Lions controlled the ball well for large portions of the match, were in total control for virtually the first and third quarters, mostly scrummed well and scored some excellent tries.


Again their patience and control impressed. They often took the ball through several phases, and again showed the knack and skill to frequently advance over the advantage line.


Western Province seldom took the ball wide.


When they did, they looked dangerous, but in all fairness to flyhalf Willem de Waal, who kicked often, the home side seldom had enough, or good enough, possession.


As it is, WP’s only try by Joe Pietersen came after 26 minutes of the second half which took the scoreline to 23-all after De Waal, with four penalties and a drop goal, and Pietersen, with a drop goal, had kept them in touch.


Both the drops came from phase ball, De Waal’s after WP had opted not to kick for posts but tried to run it. On the negative side for the Lions, their kicking from the hand was not always as accurate as it should have been.


They were also wheeled a few times, but when it mattered their front row took the WP strong men apart.


Although they were better than WP in this respect, it still wasn’t good enough with the Test just a week away – and it is a sobering thought that it was the first time on tour that they were forced into this tactic because of the wet field and some good backline pressure from the home side.


But the Lions’ backs and forwards on a number of occasions displayed enough of their running and interplay skills to show that they have the full arsenal.


Tommy Bowe, who was named Man of the Match, scored an excellent try 29 minutes into the game after a poor WP kick, good fielding and some excellent handling.


He spun over in the corner when Pietersen couldn’t hold on and then set up Ugo Monye’s try six minutes later when he cut through the home side’s defence after some good work from forwards and backs in switching the attack to the left.


With options both sides, he floated the ball to co-winger Monye for a well constructed try.


Their third try came after a well-placed cross-kick by Stephen Jones -well-claimed by Bowe – and some excellent handling.

WP’s defence had to give in after a number of rucks for Martyn Williams to force it down.


A penalty three minutes from time by replacement fullback James Hook then saw the British and Irish Lions squeeze home.


Final Score Western Province 23 (12) British and Irish Lions 26 (18)



Western Province

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