Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Springboks stay alive as they beat the Lions in physical test

The British and Irish Lions took to the field against South Africa on Saturday knowing that they ...

The British and Irish Lions took to the field against South Africa on Saturday knowing that they could wrap up the series with a win over the world champions.

After a week filled with controversy, mostly surrounding South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and his criticism of referee Nic Berry and TMO Marius Jonker in the previous test match, the stage was set for the do-or-die test for the hosts.

The Lions won the first test 22-17 in Cape Town, after coming from 12-3 down at half time, with a much improved performance against South Africa, who seemed to suffer the effects of a lack of rugby training due to COVID-19.

Warren Gatland's men would be buoyed by the knowledge that the winner of the first test in a Lions series is 80% more likely to win the series.

Jacques Nienaber's charges, on the other hand, were coming into the match backed into a corner and looking to fight like men possessed to remain alive in the series.

Lions South Africa

The Lions were under pressure early, giving away a couple of penalties and a free kick in the opening five minutes of the match, which allowed Handre Pollard to get the hosts off to an early lead.

The tense battle continued early in the half, with some handbags being thrown early. Dan Biggar got the tourists back level on the stroke of 10 minutes.

As it was in the first test, the kicking off the tee in this second test was vital, as Biggar slotted his second penalty, while Pollard's second was missed just as a quarter of the match was played.

The Lions were dealt a blow a few minutes after Pollard's missed penalty, however, as Duhan van der Merwe was shown yellow for a trip on Cheslin Kolbe, leaving them down a man against a South African side that seemed as if they were looking to play more rugby.

Kolbe would see yellow himself a few minutes later after he took out Conor Murray in the air, with more handbags following as the players began to show their increased frustration with the tension in the match.

Neither team were able to take advantage of either yellow card, as scores were level at 6-6 by the time that both players were back on the field, with Robbie Henshaw not awarded with a try by the TMO after he was ruled to be held up by Siya Kolisi.

The Lions took the lead into half time, though, as Biggar slotted another penalty off the back of the disallowed try, and held out the lead for the final four minutes of the half.

Itoje Etzebeth Lions Springboks

Almost the exact opposite of what happened a week earlier, the Springboks came out in the second half with the ascendency, winning an early scrum penalty before ultimately scoring out wide after a Pollard cross kick was gathered by Makazole Mapimpi, who ran in the first try of the match.

However, Pollard was unable to convert the try, keeping the score to a two-point game in favour of the hosts. South Africa was dealt some luck, however, as Biggar missed for the first time in the match a few minutes later to keep the hosts out to their narrow lead.

As the second half went on, South Africa began to win the aerial battle, with a number of well-placed kicks and some good presence in the air, however their control of the scrum began to wane.

South Africa looked to clearly be in control with 20 minutes left on the clock, working their way up the pitch, before Pollard put in a brilliant chip behind the defensive line for Lukhanyo Am to pounce on for the try.

There was a concern that he had lost the ball in the process of scoring that try, however, as the decision on the field was a try, the TMO needed clear and obvious evidence to over rule it, of which he adjudged there to be none.

South Africa kept the pressure on the tourists with a penalty with just 10 minutes left of the second test, before they got another one with just five minutes left to play.

The hosts held on to their lead, setting up a deciding third test in Cape Town next week with a final penalty for Pollard and a 27-9 victory over the Lions.

Catch every moment of the British and Irish Lions series on Off The Ball, with live commentary from the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Wood, Alan Quinlan and more throughout the test series.

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Alun Wyn Jones British And Irish Lions Dan Biggar Handre Pollard Jacques Nienaber Lions Maro Itoje Rassie Erasmus South Africa Springboks Warren Gatland