The Lions couldn't catch a cold, says Lawrence Dallaglio
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DURBAN – England and British and Irish Lions legend Lawrence Dallaglio had an amusing summary of why the Springboks turned the tables on the Lions in the second Test, comfortably won by the Boks 27-9 after they had lost comprehensively in the first Test.
“My old teammate Martin Johnson said before the kick-off that the Springboks play with a Plan A and if that doesn’t work then they revert to Plan A but just try and do it better!” Dallaglio told Independent Media in an exclusive interview.
“And that is what they did from the first Test to the second,” the 2003 World Cup winner said. “They were a whole lot better with their Plan A and substantially better than the Lions who in the first Test stood up to the physical confrontation well but could not do it a second time.”
The Boks were never going to reinvent the wheel in the space of seven days but there was always the feeling that they would be slicker having cast off plenty of rust in what was only their second outing since the World Cup final 20 months ago.
“They won all the key areas that they lost in the second half of the first Test, especially the aerial battle” Dallaglio pointed out. “Let’s face it, the Lions couldn’t catch a cold! They were peppered with high balls — as they were the previous week, but this time did not cope, and thus conceded control of the game. They dropped the ball six times and each time that meant lost momentum.”
The Lions led 9-6 at halftime after a prolonged arm wrestle that Dallaglio says was “painful to watch.”
“Because of what happened during the week with Rassie’s video, every incident was analysed in minute detail. So whether he meant it or not, Rassie got what he wanted. The first half was 64 minutes (instead of 40) and the constant analysis slowed the game down and that suited the Boks more than the Lions. Whatever Rassie’s reasons for his video, they worked.”
Another 180-degree turnaround from the first Test was the impact of the substitutions. This time the Boks’ famed bomb squad detonated beautifully.
“This week the Boks made the better substitutions after Gatland had won that battle in the first Test,” the 48-year-old said. “Each new player the Boks brought on increased their momentum. Their lineout with three locks (after Lood de Jager came on) was much better and it meant their scrum had more weight plus they could be more physical at the breakdown. And the South African scrum just got better and better and by the end of the game was completely dominant.
“So the Bok bench helped them win all the key areas but I think it is important to point out that on the other side of the coin, they kept their best players on the field for as long as possible. Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk, for instance, were massively influential deep into the game.
“The Boks won the second half 21-3 and that tells the story. Incidentally, It has to be mentioned that Lood de Jager’s introduction in the second half was huge. He is a heck of a player and sorted out their lineout problem instantly.”
Dallaglio, who is a Rugby Hall of Famer and was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby said he had had a nagging suspicion the Boks would turn their fortunes around.
“It is very hard to win two Tests in a row in South Africa. The All Blacks have done it, the Lions did it in 1997, but it seldom happens. The Boks have a habit of bouncing back from a loss on home soil,” he said.
“And now they have the momentum going into the third Test. It is 1-1 and everything to play for and the Lions will have to go away and lick their wounds and come up with more than they did in this match because they were played off the park in the second half.
“The Lions have been well beaten but they have a get-out-of-jail free card and Gatland knows which buttons to press to get his players up for this one. More than anything, they have got to get their aerial game sorted out.”
Lawrence Dallaglio was speaking on behalf of Land Rover. Follow the Land Rover Lions Adventure on Twitter at @LandRoverSA @LandRoverRugby #LionsAdventure