THE Springboks sealed a 2-1 win over the Lions when veteran stand-off Morne Steyn came off the bench to repeat his 2009 exploits by taking a late penalty to break the hearts of tourists.
The pain for the Lions will be acute. with Finn Russell After replacing Dan Biggar in the 11th minute, they dominated the first half but left several opportunities to really count on the scoreboard through their fingers, leaving only four points at break.
South Africa came out for the second time and focused on its physicality and sat through a good try of Cheslin Kolbebefore Steyn’s later cameo saw her home.
The Lions missed at least four penalties over the course of the game and instead went to a corner. In retrospect, we can say that it was a mistake.
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“I’m disappointed, of course, but I’m really proud of the boys’ efforts,” said Lions head coach Warren Gatland thereafter. “I thought we were brave and we went out to be positive and play rugby.
“We missed a chance or two and they are lucky and they try against the course of the game. There were a couple of 50-50 calls that probably weren’t going our way, but it was a real test match. It was tough, it was physical – that’s what you want from a Lions show.
“It was a really close competition. It could have gone in any direction. Congratulations to South Africa. “
South Africa started as planned with two high balls in the first minute, both of which were recaptured by the hosts. The Lions followed suit and were rewarded with a knock-on and an offside for bidding Dan Biggar | the opportunity to get the scoreboard rolling, but the effort of the fly half floated to the left of the posts.
A nice continuity of the Springboks broke the Lions defensive line three times around the 10-minute mark and eventually resulted in an offside penalty for the home side, who Handre Pollard transformed into three points. More importantly in connection with the course of the entire game, Dan Biggar | sustained a knee injury, meaning Russell was introduced much earlier than expected, playing his first game in five weeks after being eliminated from an Achilles tendon injury at the start of the tour.
He settled in quickly and knocked over a penalty four minutes after arriving on the pitch to level the game after the game Steven Kitshoff a scrum collapsed, and that was followed by a cross stroke on the next playthrough, three good passes in heavy traffic that the South Africans crawled on, and the right decision to hold the ball when the pass wasn’t, which gave his team another half-way Earned a penalty.
The Scottish stand-off shot the ball straight into the corner and Lions brought the line-out drive the six yards it was open for Ken Owens to get the downward pressure Russell nailed the conversion from far to the left.
When another typical flat pass from Russell Williams posted on the right, there was supposed to be a neem trial period but the Welsh full-back made no use of it Josh Adams on its outside. Game resumed for another Lions penalty near halftime and Russell sent another inch-perfect kick to the corner, but a Tom Curry An obstacle stopped a rerun of Owens’ attempt a few minutes earlier.
Alun Wyn Jones managed to shovel the property out of contact to send it Maro Itoje He galloped into Springbok 22 while the Lions continued to dominate after half an hour, but he was isolated and another promising opportunity passed.
Loose-headed lions Wyn Jones took fairly extensive treatment five minutes before half-time and struggled in the scrum that followed, creating a penalty opportunity for Pollard to make a four-point game.
The tourists had the chance to recover immediately when they won a jerk penalty right after the restart and Russell again judged his kick to the corner perfectly, but Itoje received a detention penalty in the end, so that there was no goal more gave the first half. It looked good for Gatland’s team, but missing out on three or four clear try-scoring opportunities turned out to be costly.
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Pollard had a chance to come back to one point after seven minutes of the second half when Curry was punished for walking too slowly away from the tackle, but the South African playmaker hit the post.
There were a few nervous minutes for Russell when using his right arm Cheslin Kolbe‘s head in a tackle, but referee Mathieu Raynal in conversation with Television Match Official Marius Jonker correctly decided that the South African winger’s slip was sufficient to qualify as a penalty but not a card.
Pollard missed another shot on goal but South Africa was now on the move and they took the lead when Kolbe stepped into Williams and burned himself Luke Cowan-Dickie outside on the way to the line. There was a holdup while the possibility that Jasper meadow had knocked at the start of the turn while fighting for a high ball before Raynal decided to stay on the field on his first call.
Pollard’s kicker radar returned for conversion and the Sprinboks were three points ahead of them entering the final quarter.
South Africa’s discipline waned for a few minutes and they gave away a few cheap penalties, including one for a late shoulder attack from Just Etzebeth which allowed Russell to square it.
Then Steyn came into the fight after 65 minutes and two minutes later the 37-year-old shot a penalty that put his team back in the lead, but the Lions looked dangerous.
Duhan van der Merwe had a load on the left sideline, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler and Robbie Henshaw all carried on purpose, and when Etzebeth conceded another penalty – this time for knocking the ball Conor Murray‘s hand – the tourists went around the corner.
It was a brave move and it didn’t pay off because South Africa looted the mouth, and although Mako Vunipola With a short ball he managed to find a way over the try line, he could not bring it to the ground and a penalty received in the subsequent scrum enabled the hosts to clean up the field.
A thunderous blow from the springboks made the Lions step back, however Cobus Reinach struck and a brilliant breakthrough through the middle of Henshaw led to a Lukhanyo Am Apart from what made Russell all-square again.
Steyn was almost the villain for South Africa before eventually becoming a hero because he confused himself after collecting a kick from Russell who jumped the try line and was lucky enough to get away with it.
Then came the crucial moment. Russell failed to collect a springbok bomb and a penalty was conceded right in front of the post with just two minutes to go. For some reason, Jantjies opted for a quick one and was isolated but then got out of jail because Raynal called it back because the faucet was removed from the wrong place.
Steyn took the three points home and although the Lions regained possession when they restarted, they gave a scrub penalty in the end and the game was over.
There may be no real complaints about the outcome, but Lions will feel that this was an opportunity they left their hands on.
“When you play the world champions, you know it’s going to be a really close match – it’s going to be a ricochet or a referee decision or something,” concluded Gatland. “We were stopped over the line and then punished in a scrum, which was a bit of bad luck when you’re five meters from their line.
“The boys gave 100 percent and from a coach’s point of view you can’t ask for more.”
“[But] the penalty score was 15-12 against us and that’s so important at this level. Your goal is to keep your penalties below 10 and if you can do that it will make a significant difference.
“There were great moments like the two-on-one with Liam Williams and Josh Adams, probably should have given the passport. At this level you get a chance or two and you have to make the most of it. They have to be clinical when they come around.
“Probably the most disappointing part of the game was the first 10 minutes of the second half when we were just pinned a little in our half and then it took a while to get some momentum.”
South Africa: W le Roux (D Willemse 78); C. Kolbe, L. Am., D. Allende, M. Mapimpi; H. Pollard (M. Steyn 64), C. Reinach (H. Jantjies 64); S Kitshoff (T Nyakane 60), B Mbonambi (M Marx 55), F Malherbe (V Koch 55), E Etzebeth, L de Jager (K Smith 53), S Kolisi (M v Staden 55-62) , F Mostert (K. Smith 13-21), J. Wiese (S. Kolisi 63).
Lions: L. Williams; J. Adams, R. Henshaw, B. Aki, D. van der Merwe; D Biggar (F Russell 11), A Price (C Murray 59); W Jones (M Vunipola 44), K Owens (L Cowan-Dickie 53), T Furlong (K Sinckler 59), M Itoje, A Jones (A Beard 60), C Lawes, T Curry, J Conan (S Simmonds 60) .
Referee: Mathieu Raynal.
Goal scorers –
South Africa: Experiments: Kolbe; Disadvantage: Pollard; Pen: Pollard 2, Steyn 2.
Lions: Trials: Owens; Cons: Russell; Pen: Russell 3.
Scoring order (lions first): 3-0; 3-3; 3-8; 3-10; 6-10 (h) 11-10; 13-10; 13-13; 16-13; 16-16; 19-16.
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