Five things the Springboks can be pleased with ahead of British and Irish Lions decider
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CAPE TOWN - What a second-half performance that was!
The Springboks levelled the series in stunning fashion, whipping the British & Irish Lions 27-9 in the second Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and setting the third Test up as the decider. After losing the opening opener 22-17, all the pressure was of course on the hosts heading into the second Test. And boy, did they handle it well!
Here are five things from the Bok win that were particularly pleasing.
Captain Siya’s monster performance
That try-saving tackle on Robbie Henshawwas a highlight, but by no means was that all Siya Kolisi brought to the game.
He produced one of his best games in a Bok jersey, was one of the hardest-working players on defence, and showed that he can stand up in the big games.
He also deserves credit for the way he led his team after a tough week.
The impact off the bench
The Bok coaching staff got their substitutions SO right.
Last week, some changes were questionable, although Bok coach Jacques Nienaber afterwards shed some light on his front-row changes.
This week, they were spot on. Lood de Jager came on and stabilised the Bok lineout after they had lost two off their own throws, and the replacement front row of Trevor Nyakane (especially considering that he came on at loosehead), Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch was simply outstanding.
Stellar individual performances
Spoilt for choice with this one. Apart from Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi was all over the Cape Town Stadium pitch in a man-of-the-match performance, while Franco Mostert showed his versatility in a big outing.
Lukhanyo Am again proved that his eyes just see defence differently, and Damian de Allende was just as solid.
And those are just the starters …
The way the Boks changed things up
Last week they started well in the first half, but were completely outplayed after the break. This week, it was the reverse.
The hosts’ approach changed, and a standout was how they used their kicks to create and get ahead.
Dominance despite hurdles
This point would probably be better suited for after the series, but the way the Boks stood up at the weekend despite a serious lack of Test minutes leading up to the series deserves praise.
Thor is back
The Boks have confirmed that Duane Vermeulen joined the team at their base in Cape Town yesterday after missing the first two Tests against the Lions due to an ankle injury. The star No 8 has been undergoing rehabilitation following surgery several weeks ago.
The Boks have had some issues filling Vermeulen’s shoes. Kwagga Smith started at the back of the scrum in the opener, and while he was decent, Vermeulen was missed. Jasper Wiese, who took over from Smith for the second Test, has also struggled to produce real impact, although he seemed to be getting into it around the time he was substituted at the weekend.
Nienaber added that the Boks will know more about Pieter-Steph du Toit’s injury today. The Boks will take on the Lions in the series decider this Saturday.