June International Tours

South Africa win first Lions test

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The British and Irish Lions lost the first test in Durban South Africa 26-21 which means that the Lions now need to win both remaining tests if they are to win the series.

 

South Africa went ahead strongly but it was the Lions who finished in control and scored all of the points in the final quarter.

 

The Lions scored three tries to two.

 

The Springboks seemed to lose concentration when all their players were given a run from the bench and failed to capitalise on a good aggressive start, built on a solid scrum and particularly the dominance of Man of the Match Beast Mtawarira, over Lions tighthead Phil Vickery.

 

Although the Boks were not playing faultless rugby, with too many handling errors and ill-placed up-and-unders, they were in control in the first half against a subdued Lions side rattled by the ferocious early onslaught.

 

And their veteran tighthead Vickery may well have played his last Test match as he was outscrummed every time Mtawarira packed down, and two penalties because of this dominance gave the Springboks a foothold they never relinquished while he was on the field.

 

Lions flyhalf Stephen Jones missed a penalty three minutes into the game after JP Pietersen was ahead of a goof kick from the base of a ruck by Fourie du Preez.

 

Mtawarira popped Vickery out from the first three scrums to set the pattern, and the Boks poached the first Lions lineout – also something that was to be repeated.

 

Their dominance at the breakdown was emphasised by the many penalties awarded against the Lions in this facet, with Heinrich Brussow quiet but very effective on the ground.

 

A concern was the ability of the Lions to break through the midfield and generally they too easily troubled the Bok defence when they went on the run.

 

Of the players who had not seen action recently, Frans Steyn was adequate at fullback, but made two glaring handling errors and too often kicked poorly.

 

Ruan Pienaar was good, but clearly not sharp.

 

He nevertheless vindicated the selectors’ faith in him. The first Springbok points came after a well-placed kick to the corner by Ruan Pienaar from which the Lions carried over.

 

From the rucks after the ensuring scrum, John Smit went over just to the left o the posts for Ruan Pienaar to convert.

 

It was 7-0 after five minutes, but the Lions so nearly scored when Frans Steyn knocked on from the restart, and Ugo Monye went over in the corner -but Jean de Villiers had his hand under the ball.

 

Jones then missed another penalty, Pienaar slotted a sitter and Frans Steyn made it 13-0 from about 46 metres with an angled kick.

 

Despite having little of the ball and being dominated in the scrums, the Lions looked dangerous twice when they took it wide, and when Jamie Roberts broke through Adi Jacobs’ tackle for O’Driscoll to take it on before sending Tom Croft over with Jones converting, the score was 13-7 after 23 minutes.

 

Pienaar extended the lead to 16-3 after a scrum penalty when Mtawarira again had the better of Vickery and it became 19-7 after 36 minutes following a third Pienaar penalty.

 

That was the halftime score. And then, just three minutes into the second half, the Boks mauled the Lions downfield for a full 20 metres, and from the ensuing penalty did it again.

 

The maul was brought down, the Boks kicked for the corner, and Brussow was the man in possession when the try was awarded. Pienaar’s fifth kick from six a

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