South Africa edged the British & Irish Lions 19-16 at the death to claim a hard-fought 2-1 series win at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town.
Morne Steyn came off the bench to kick two penalties as the Springboks clawed back a first-half deficit to claim the series.
It was deja vu all over again as the Bok and Blue Bulls legend once again broke British & Irish Lions’ hearts, and it was glorious.
Immortality is his and his team’s. Siya Kolisi is now also a World Cup-winning and Lions series-winning captain.
Kolisi’s place in history, like Steyn and Cheslin Kolbe, is assured.
Steyn had come off the bench in the second Test of the 2009 Lions series with the scores tied 25-all and slotted a memorable 55-metre winning kick to seal a World Cup and Lions series double for South Africa.
It was his first Test in five years.
This time, the Blue Bulls flyhalf had an easier kick in terms of distance, but the pressure was equally intense.
The 37-year-old hero made no mistake, splitting the uprights from in front to win the series.
This series win completes a rare World Cup and Lions series double for Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus, who both out-coached and out-thought their limited opponents.
Warren Gatland cannot complete the feat of being unbeaten in a Lions series in the southern hemisphere after this gutting defeat.
The British & Irish Lions have now only won one series in the 21st century and three in 30-odd years.
This is a chance missed for Gatland, who only managed a fortunate 1st Test win.
His side was dull, played boring rugby; his side only managed two tries in three Tests.
Both scores came from hookers falling over the try line after a driving maul; not exactly exhilarating rugby.
The Lions also only scored once in a defeat to an under-cooked SA A side who had only trained together twice.
Gatland not only failed his team, but he also lost the mind games he loves to instigate because Erasmus took him to town.
Ken Owens crashed over in the first half and Finn Russell converted the conversion and a penalty as the Lions led 10-6 at the interval.
Handre Pollard kicked two penalties to keep the Boks in touch.
However, the 27-year-old flyhalf missed two penalty goals after halftime, but he converted Kolbe’s fantastic 57th-minute solo effort.
Enter Morne Steyn a la 2009
Russell and Morne Steyn, on for Pollard, traded kicks as the Boks led 16-13 with 15 minutes remaining.
But a mistake by Kolisi gave Russell another shot at goal, he made no mistake to level again.
With time running out, South Africa won a kickable penalty from 35 metres out and in front of the poles.
Up stepped Steyn to put the opposition out of their misery and South Africa into raptures.
The British & Irish Lions dominate the first half as South Africa fail to find any rhythm
The tourists took a deserved four-point halftime lead, but they should have had more but for a few missed opportunities from attacking lineouts.
Pollard’s two first-half penalties brought up 500 points in Test rugby for South Africa as the hosts trailed 6-10.
The loss of Dan Biggar in the 11th-minute was heaven-sent for Gatland, whose team had not played any rugby in the series until then.
Biggar missed an early penalty before going off, Pollard put the Boks ahead on 12 minutes.
South Africa should have had more than three but Bongi Mbonambi knocked on near the try line.
The Boks missed 15 tackles to three in the opening stanza and had to make 84 tackles to 25; it would make the difference in the final quarter.
Mbonombi had a mare, losing lineouts, conceding penalties, missing tackles, and not doing much else.
The Boks began the game okay, winning the aerial battle, but they fell away, conceding too many penalties and making too many errors.
Finn Russell came on and immediately changed the course of the game. The Lions’ pace and the tempo increased, and the visitors looked to go wide at every opportunity.
The Scotsman, who had last played in the first game against the Sharks, dazzled from the get-go.
Russell levelled a few minutes later before injecting some nous into his team’s attack.
The tactics changed too; instead of taking the points on offer, the Lions began to kick to the corner.
They looked to exert pressure on the Boks’ pack, who had an off day.
As the Boks conceded penalties, the Lions started kicking to the corner, and it worked immediately.
On 19 minutes, Owens powered over for the game’s first try, Russell converted and the Lions led by seven.
The Lions began to enjoy lots of territory and possession, but somehow the Springboks kept them out causing the Lions to make mistakes near the goal-line.
Pollard kicked his second penalty four minutes before the break after Wyn Jones collapsed the scrum, but Nienaber’s men had to hang on at the death.
South Africa started the second stanza well, missing two penalties but scoring a converted try
Pollard missed two shots at goal in the third quarter, and the Lions almost rode out the danger before Kolbe’s stunning strike after Itoje’s knock-on in midfield.
Kolbe’s magic changed the momentum, the Lions got squeezed despite staying in the game to the end.
The second half began with Jones collapsing another scrum, which allowed Pollard a shot at goal.
The Welsh prop could not handle Frans Malherbe and promptly left the field.
However, the Boks opted to kick to the 22 where they won a free-kick.
Nothing came from a 10-phase attack because Pollard’s kick got charged down after a superb defensive effort by the visitors.
South Africa won another kickable penalty, but this time, like Biggar last week, Pollard hit the post.
Nienaber’s side could not make any of their chances, and the Lions saw out the danger.
Russell was lucky not to be yellow-carded for a high tackle on a slipping Kolbe, but the winger slipped; the French referee made the right call.
Then out of nowhere, Kolbe did to the Lions what he did to England in the 2019 World Cup final.
Kolbe scores a carbon-copy try of his one in the World Cup final, slipping Liam Williams’ tackle, and handing off Luke Cowan-Dickie to score.
Itoje knocked on a high ball, Lukhanyo Am caught the ball and played Willie Le Roux.
Le Roux ghosted from his own half to between the opposition’s 10m and 22m before releasing Kolbe, who did the rest.
After several TMO reviews, the referee rightly awarded the try no matter how much TMO Marius Jonker tried to overrule the Frenchman.
Pollard converted to open up a 13-10 lead going into the last quarter.
Russell slotted a long-range penalty to level on 63 minutes before Steyn put his side back ahead by three as the clock ran down.
Mako Vunipola was held up over the line, then after several resets, Kyle Sinckler collapsed the scrum.
Steyn cleared with a monster kick, but after a driving maul that sent the Lions 25 metres backward.
Herschel Jantjies’ mistake led to Russell getting another shot at goal because of Kolisi’s brain freeze at the ruck.
The Scot delivered, leveling for the tourists with five to play; however, there was to be no glory for the tourists.
With time running out, the Boks won a series-clinching penalty. Steyn made no mistake.
Final Score: South Africa 19 (6) British and Irish Lions 16 (10)
Tries – Kolbe
Pen – Pollard (2), Steyn (2)
Con – Pollard
British & Irish Lions
Tries – Owens
Pen – Russell (3)
Con – Russell
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
Assistant Referee 1: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR)
Assistant Referee 2: Nic Berry (RA)
TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende (50 Tests), 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Damian Willemse.
British & Irish Lions
15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams (Debut), 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki (Debut), 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Captain), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones (Debut)
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Elliot Daly