Dan Biggar’s boot proved the difference as the British & Irish Lions came from behind to beat South Africa 22-17 in an attritional first test in Cape Town on Saturday.
Biggar kicked four penalties and a conversion for a 14-point personal tally to take the Lions to victory after they were 12-3 down at halftime but came back strongly in the second half.
Luke Cowan-Dickie scored the Lions‘ only try with Owen Farrell adding a key late penalty while the Springboks’ points came from a Faf de Klerk try and four first-half penalties from Handre Pollard.
The two teams meet again next Saturday in the second test, also at the Cape Town Stadium.
Maro Itoje won the Player of the Match, telling Sky Sports: “These moments don’t come that often in your career. It’s a real privilege to where this jersey and to win as well is special.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to come out and do the business next week. We had to tidy up our discipline. We did in the second half and we had the mental fortitude to see it through.”
Lions vs South Africa result: Same time next week?
That just about does us for this evening’s live coverage. A fierce battle, as was anticipated, with a couple of handfuls of controversy and drama, and eventually a famous British and Irish Lions Test victory.
Warren Gatland has warned that South Africa will come back stronger next week - we’ll be back at the same time, in the same place, with Cape Town Stadium again the venue for the Second Test.
We’ll have plenty of reaction to the Lions’ win tonight and tomorrow, and plenty of coverage across The Independent throughout the week ahead of what should be another mighty meeting. Until then, do stay safe and well, and thank you for joining us.
Warren Gatland’s side overcame a 12-3 deficit with a second-half surge behind Dan Biggar’s boot
Lions vs South Africa result: Warren Gatland on how he rates this win
“It’s right up there. Any Lions Test victory is special. For us it has been a challenge [dealing with Covid].
For me, having been under a pressure, to keep our composure and fight back into the game is the most pleasing thing. To beat the world champions first up in their own backyard is really, really special.”
Lions vs South Africa result: Warren Gatland on his side’s victory
“South Africa will be a lot stronger in the next two matches. They will look to get better and improve.”
Asked if he felt some of the decisions favoured the Lions, Gatland pauses for a good five seconds, and then says, bluntly: “No.”
Lions vs South Africa: Warren Gatland on victory
“I didn’t want them to vary their game that much. Our lineout was excellent today and the scrum looked like it was under a little of pressure at the start, but we eased into it. They are going to keep working hard as a group and continue to improve. We feel there is a lot more in us.
On Courtney Lawes: “I thought he had a brilliant game. His lineout work, his carries.”
“The impact of our bench was probably more significant than the impact of their bench. That was very pleasing.”
Lions vs South Africa result: Warren Gatland on his side’s win
“We were happy with the way we defended. That last passage of play we were coming off the line and making big tackles and they weren’t going anywhere.
“They are world champions, an incredibly proud nation and next week is going to be even bigger and tougher.”
Lions vs South Africa result: Warren Gatland reacts
“The message at half-time was that we were still in the arm wrestle. Let’s keep our patience, we will get chances. Don’t try and force things. We got stronger and stronger as the second half went on. It was a really tight Test match.
“We came from behind and finished very strongly. In the last few minutes we were excellent. We started to get some dominance in our forward carries, the scrum stabilised and we got a bit of dominance there. Once we started to take them through some phases they conceded a number of penalties in a row.”
Lions vs South Africa: English pair star
Courtney Lawes ahead of Tadhg Beirne looked a very bold call from Warren Gatland, but after a slow start to the game, the England lock-cum-flanker was outstanding (though Beirne made an impact in limited time on the pitch after replacing him).
Lions vs South Africa result: Springboks react
First, though, Jacques Nienaber and Siya Kolisi are taking questions from the press after South Africa’s defeat.
“We lost that second half in the air,” says the South Africa head coach, and it is hard to disagree.
Kolisi refuses to blame Covid for the loss, despite him and a number of other key players having spent time in isolation ahead of this series.
Lions vs South Africa result
We should be hearing from British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland and captain Alun Wyn Jones reasonably shortly. Plenty to consider for Gatland ahead of next week - after the first half performance, few had staked a claim to keep their starting shirts but the way in which his side came back after half-time suggests he may have got the balance just right.
Lions vs South Africa result: Tourists win First Test
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