Lions suffer late heartbreak as Morne Steyn boots South Africa to victory in final Test

The world champions secured a 19-16 win in the final moments in Cape Town to clinch the series

<p>Springboks celebrate in Cape Town</p>

Springboks celebrate in Cape Town

Morne Steyn stepped off the bench to break British and Irish Lions hearts for a second time by landing a late penalty to clinch a dramatic series victory for South Africa

Steyn hit the target with a minute left to snatch a 19-16 victory for the Springboks in an unbearably tense third and final Test at Cape Town Stadium.

In a cruel twist of fate, the 37-year-old also sealed the fate of the 2009 Lions when he booted another late penalty that gave South Africa an unassailable 2-0 lead in a 28-25 win in the second Test.

Inspired by Finn Russell who had replaced the injured Dan Biggar, the Lions produced their best rugby of the series in a first-half they lit up with off-loads, tempo and ambition.

The only concern was that Ken Owens’s 19th-minute try as part of a 10-6 interval lead was a disappointing return given the time spent in the opposition 22 and so it proved in a tense third quarter dominated by the Springboks.

Cheslin Kolbe struck with a brilliant finish to propel South Africa back in front and set-up a nerve-shredding climax to the series as Russell, Handre Pollard and then Steyn took over from the kicking tee.

But trailing 16-13, the Lions rolled the dice by opting for touch instead of another three points and the gamble backfired when a scrum won after they had been held up over the line saw the Springboks win a penalty to relieve the pressure.

They did not make the same mistake twice, however, with Russell completing a long-range attempt to level the score with five minutes left, but there was still time for Steyn to strike.

South Africa’s Handre Pollard goes for the ball

In a desperate blow for Biggar, his departure soon after missing a shot at goal brought on Russell who made an immediate impact with the ball in hand once Pollard had sent a kick sailing between the uprights to draw first blood.

The Lions were gaining a crucial foothold at the scrum and when they squeezed the hosts once more, referee Mathieu Raynal awarded a penalty that Russell landed comfortably.

And Russell was at the heart of a Lions attack that swept them downfield, sharp lines and slipped passes doing the damage and forcing another kickable penalty, but this time Alun Wyn Jones opted for touch.

The gamble paid off as Owens was driven over from the line-out and with Russell on target with the conversion, the lead stretched to 10-3.

Liam Williams ignored an overlap that would have led to a certain score for Josh Adams as the Lions, guided by Russell, continued to make ground with the ball in hand before a second attempt at scoring a maul try ended with Raynal’s whistle.

Wyn Jones, the tourists’ most effective scrummaging loosehead, was clutching his shoulder in discomfort and South Africa forced a penalty at the set-piece that Pollard nailed.

Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa breaks with the ball

The first-half ended with the Springboks furiously defending their line with Siya Kolisi coming to their rescue with a critical steal.

Wyn Jones finally departed with his injury soon after the interval and it became the Lions’ turn to weather a storm as South Africa pounded away without success, their disappointment compounded by a missed penalty by Pollard.

A high tackle by Russell on Kolbe was whistled but once more Pollard could not hit the target and with 55 minutes on the clock, the tourists finally escaped their half with a long kick from their mercurial fly-half.

But disaster struck almost immediately when a hoisted ball bounced off Jasper Wiese’s shoulder and fell to Lukhanyo Am, who fed Willie Le Roux.

The former Wasps full-back did his job perfectly as he drew his man and fed Kolbe who twisted and turned through despairing tackles by Williams and Cowan-Dickie to score.

Russell punished an infringement by Wiese to level the score but Steyn replaced Pollard and his first act was to land a penalty.

The Lions were held up over the line and could not capitalise on a five-metre scrum, but they were back on the front foot through a rampaging break by Robbie Henshaw.

Russell then found the posts but Steyn had the final say as he returned to haunt the Lions.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in