Springboks’ ’bomb squad’ blows British Lions away to level Test series
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CAPE TOWN -The Springboks’ physicality slow poison came into the effect in the second half as the home side kept the series alive with an 27-9 victory over the British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
It wasn’t a pretty affair on a cold but clear evening at the 2010 Fifa World Cup venue, with the Boks having to chase the victory and the Lions staying patient following their 22-17 win last week.
And while the South Africans looked sharper and better prepared this time around, they still made a number of unforced errors in the opening 40 minutes that kept the Lions in the contest.
New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe wasn’t shy to blow his whistle, penalising the hosts often at the breakdowns as the Lions did well to maintain their shape in defence to shut down the Bok attack.
The South Africans varied their play in much more convincing fashion than in the first Test, with Faf de Klerk gaining extra height on his box-kicks, Damian de Allende knocking over Lions tacklers with ball-in-hand, and Willie le Roux coming into the line out wide.
The Boks also had a better plan to handle the Lions’ kicking game, with Le Roux prominent, while No 8 Jasper Wiese assisted wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe.
Flyhalves Handre Pollard and Dan Biggar exchanged a few early penalties, but when the Bok No 10 missed a fairly easy shot at goal, they also lost Pieter-Steph du Toit to what looked like a shoulder injury following a tackle by Duhan van der Merwe.
The tourists were 6-3 up at that stage after the opening quarter, but lost Van der Merwe to a yellow card for a trip on Kolbe, where after the Bok No 14 was also sent off for 10 minutes for taking out Conor Murray in the air.
De Allende was also a rock in defence, along with Frans Malherbe, but the physical dominance didn’t result in many points. Pollard slotted an important penalty after the half-hour mark from a difficult angle to level the scores at 6-6, but the Lions roared back and thought they got a try when Robbie Henshaw caught the ball over the line.
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Man of the match Makazole Mapimpi reflects on tonight's Springbok victory 🇿![CDATA]>🇦
Bok captain Siya Kolisi, though, saved the day by getting under the Irish centre, and the TMO Marius Jonker and O’Keeffe agreed that Henshaw lost the ball forward.
Biggar managed to put the Lions back into a 9-6 lead at halftime, but the South Africans were smelling blood…
They earned a scrum penalty after the break, and the forwards soon punched holes in the Lions defence before Pollard delivered a cross-kick for Mapimpi to finish with aplomb.
The game wasn’t won with an 11-9 lead to the Boks, and Biggar had a chance to regain the advantage for the Lions, but booted his penalty against the uprights.
It was a massive miss, and seemed to take the wind out of the Lions’ sails, while the effect of the Boks’ tremendous physicality was starting to take its toll.
Lood de Jager also made a significant improvement to the South African lineout, stealing a Lions throw and putting himself about in general play too.
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The raging Springbok maul makes an appearance and Faf de Klerk puts in a little kick for the centre who dots down brilliantly. Boks lead by nine.
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And on the hour mark, the Boks landed the knockout blow when De Klerk put through a grubber for Lukhanyo Am to dot down.
De Allende continued with his immense contribution in the final quarter as the slow poison of the Bok physicality doused the Lions’ fire, with Pollard banging over three late penalties to send the series into a decider next week.
Springboks 27 – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am. Conversions: Handre Pollard (1). Penalties: Pollard (5).
Lions 9 – Penalties: Dan Biggar (3).