June International Tours

Boks won the battle but not the war:BOD



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Brian O’Driscoll has hailed his midfield partnership with Jamie Roberts and stressed that the partnership can be key in helping the Lions turn the series around against the Springboks in the two remaining tests.

The Lions midfield broke through the South African backline time and again in Durban but the Lions were unable to finish off their breaks and seal what would have given the Lions vital lead in the series.

The Irishman says that the way in which the Lions came back in the second half once the team had got to know each other shows that they will be able to live with the Springboks in the second and third Tests in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

“Jamie Roberts caused their midfield problems with his strength and ability to pass to a runner in space,” O’Driscoll told the Western Mail.

“Our partnership is developing nicely.”

“A pleasing aspect of our performance was how often we exploited holes in a defence that is reputedly the best in the world.” he pointed out.

“It is all there and we have no reason to panic.”

“This series is far from over, but we cannot afford to make the same mistakes and we have to be more clinical close to their line, finishing off what we start.

“I thought Matthew Rees, among others, made a big impact from the bench and we showed in the final 25 minutes that we are capable of dominating a side as good as the World Cup holders through the quality of our own rugby.”

In the first half the Lions were not used to playing alongside each other and the Springboks who have been together for almost five years ran away with the match.

The Lions feel that once the Lions got used to each other they were the better team which is backed by the way the Lions came back at the Boks.

The Springboks feel that they have the measure of the Lions and that they allowed the Lions to come back at them by bringing on their replacements. If the Springboks are correct then it says little for their depth.

Either way O’Driscoll insists Ian McGeechan’s men will not be overpowered as the series progresses.

“What you have to do against South Africa is stand up to them,” added the Leinster centre.

“They look to bully and intimidate you, always talking and sniffing for weakness.

“Bakkies Botha had me on the floor in the first half and Bismark du Plessis in the second.

“It was hardly the most pleasant position to be in, but you have to look them in the eye and not be cowed.”

“Du Plessis pulled his right fist back and said he was going to knock me out.”

“I told him to go ahead. He wanted me to flinch and show weakness, but he had no chance.

“Suddenly he found himself in a position where, if he went ahead with his threat, he would be in trouble with the officials.

“He had to pull away.”

O’Driscoll says that redemption in the second Test for the Lions now lies with making a better start to the game than they managed on Saturday.

“We have to ensure at Loftus Versfeld that we start better,” he said.

“They will be better for having played their first game in seven months, but we have to up the intensity and not give them a head start.

“They may have won the opening Test, but they will be only too aware that it came down to a couple of video referee decisions and a ball dropped on the line.

“An international match invariably comes down to small margins and we had the chances to win.

“It is no use asking whether the referee was right or wrong in the key decisions he made, because the game has gone.

“It is now all about Pretoria, moving on and absorbing the lessons from Durban.”

And O’Driscoll believes that what the Lions produce on Saturday will say much about their collective character. The Lions however will need to take a big step up as both of the remaining Tests will be played at altitude and Loftus Versf

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