Rugby Union: 'My best day in rugby'

Tony Wallace hears the Lions rejoice and the Springboks despair

For the second week running, the Springboks had the Lions by the throat, but inexplicably let their prey escape. With it went the series and very soon Carel du Plessis, the South African coach, will almost surely know his fate. In a rugby-mad country where you either succeed or are quickly shown the door, Du Plessis bore the look of a condemned man.

"It was a big disappointment and another missed opportunity," he said. "Things don't always go your way in this game. The place-kicking cost us a great deal. It was vital that we kicked some goals; and we didn't."

Gary Teichmann, the South African captain, took defeat philosophically: "It's the same old story," he said. "You have to take your chances in Test rugby, and it's hard to believe we lost. In fairness we had to bring some new players and they did well. But in the final analysis we weren't sure enough in key areas today."

By contrast, the Lions' coach Ian McGeechan, a player on the undefeated 1974 tour to South Africa was delighted, and can look forward to participating in another series without loss if the Lions win or draw the final Test at Ellis Park on Saturday. "We have been building a momentum and you can be sure we will be up forJohannesburg. If we're honest the Springboks had the opportunities to win, but they passed up so many chances and our very special group of players deserve all the credit they have earned," he said.

"It's been my best day in rugby," said the Lions' captain, Martin Johnson. "Our forward effort was just enough. We never let our heads drop, even when Andre Joubert went in for the third try. There were still more than 20 minutes to go and we knew there would be a chance to pull it back."

Jenkins, who repeated his 15-point haul of the first Test in Cape Town, reluctantly accepted the praise of his team-mates. He said: "I am there to do a job and all I kept imagining was being on the practice ground. I managed to block the crowd out of my mind to put the kicks over. South Africa missed theirs, and maybe that was the difference.

"This is a huge day, I've experience some real hidings from South Africa playing for Wales, so it has been a great achievement to come through like this."Jeremy Guscott, whose 76th-minute dropped goal sealed it, said: "I had only one thing on my mind, and that was to drop for goal. I could hardly bear to look, but fortunately it went over."

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