SPRINGBOKS STRIKE BACK
South Africa struck back emphatically to win the second test against the British & Irish Lions 27-9 at Cape Town on Saturday. This sets the series up for the winner takes all decider on Saturday next, kick off 5 p.m.
The momentum would now appear to be very much in favour of the world champions, particularly based on their powerful second half performance when they kept the Lions scoreless. They trailed 9-6 at the break following a protracted and fractious first half that took close on 65 minutes to complete. Both teams incurred a yellow card and both players, Duhan van der Merwe and Cheslin Kolbe, could well have seen red.
The tourists could not deal with the sustained high ball approach adopted by the Springboks with Stuart Hogg enduring a nightmare under the bombardment. Liam Williams must start at full back for the decider. Further changes are likely and Tadhg Beirne will surely be named in the match XV too. It must also be noted that the Lions got no reward for their own kicking ploy which should have been changed from an early stage.
Robbie Henshaw was easily pick of the Lions backline and was decidedly unlucky not to score a try shortly before half-time. Siya Kolisi may have got an arm under the ball but, to me, it looked like the Buccaneers man was tackled before his feet touched the ground as he caught Conor Murray’s deft chip over the cover. The match officials never considered this, which could have resulted in a penalty try, while South Africa got another slice of good fortune when they were awarded Lukhanyo Am’s try. He did not appear to have control when attempting to ground the ball, a score that meant the Lions would not overhaul their hosts on the day.
Thus swings and roundabouts with the pendulum now in favour of the home nation. But the Lions have the potential and ability that with a smarter game plan can clinch the series. It will surely be a better and more entertaining encounter than last weekend’s turgid affair which left the many who viewed the game at The Bounty nonplussed. Warren Gatland must come up with some tactical and selection magic but, if the Lions hit form, they can take the honours.