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Springboks have much to think about

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The British and Irish Lions say – after their 26-21 defeat in Durban on Saturday that put them 1-0 behind in the three-Test series – that the tour is not over yet.


And while both teams are now searching for the X-factor on which the series may hinge, a look at the first Test statistics suggest the Lions may have a point.


Despite their loss of concentration and the incomprehensible replacements changes Springbok coach Peter de Villiers made, the Boks snuck a win.


It is sobering, however, that the Lions played the most rugby, scored more tries than the Springboks, were denied of three more after TMO and other decisions and looked dangerous on other occasions.


It is also a fact the game was won in the first 20 minutes or so, based on the Springboks’ scrum, two missed penalties by Stephen Jones and a disallowed near-try by winger Ugo Monye which he thought he had scored.


That would have had the visitors on equal terms, at least.


In fact, their running which caused the Springbok to miss 13 tackles and make nearly 90 compared to the Lions’ four and 33 respectively, tell of the danger that the visitors pose.


It does not take a genius to predict their game plan will (again) be built around running the Boks ragged.


“When we worked our pattern and game-plan, I thought we created holes all over the pitch. If we hadn’t created any chances, then I think we would be in big trouble. “said Monye.


“If we start like we finished this game, I think we will be a real tough side to beat next Saturday.” he added.


And coach Ian McGeechan emphasised that he was pleased, despite the defeat, that his team had shown the ability to create opportunities throughout the full 80 minutes.


Better finishing would have seen them win, he feels. They will take that into their game on Saturday.


Although the Boks will be more on target with their kicking from hand on Saturday, the Lions will feel they can run the ball to good effect.


This they’ll do – and they won’t be overawed by the occasion early on when a slow start put them under tremendous early pressure.


They were shown up in the front row where veteran Phil Vickery may have played his last Test after his annihilation by Beast Mtawarira.

 

Lee Mears may well have to make way for Matthew Rees at hooker.

 

Alun-Wyn Jones brought very little to the game and will undoubtedly be replaced -probably by captain Paul O’Connell’s Irish lock partner Donncha O’Callaghan

 

And to counter the Boks at the breakdown, Martyn Williams will probably be included for David Wallace.

The Lions know the Boks now, for all their other attributes and fast backs, and will retain the Bulls’ recipe of high kick and following up.


The visitors will have to find a counter, and also to improve their general kicking game. Stephen Jones could be the man who falls to the bench on this count.


For De Villiers, who clearly believes in the winning deeds of the past despite claiming his side is selected purely on merit, the time has come to take another look at the outside centre position.


Too often in the past, and as recently as the Super 14 clash where the Bulls virtually ignored the tackles of Sharks and Springbok centre Adi Jacobs, his defence has been found wanting.


On Saturday the Lions broke the Springbok line almost at will, and the much-vaunted combinations De Villiers retained for this Test came to naught. One of the outstanding players of the Super 14 was Wynand Olivier.


Considering the three short Super 14 spells of Morgan Newman made such an impression on De Villiers as he has stated, Olivier’s imperious form this year cannot be further denied.


After playing Frans Steyn at flyhalf and centre last year in his first year in charge, De Villiers on Saturday came o

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