South Africa’s backs Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am scored second half tries as the Springboks beat the British & Irish Lions 27-9 to win Saturday’s second test at the Cape Town Stadium and level the series.
Handre Pollard added five penalties and a conversion for a 17-point contribution while the Lions points all came off the boot of Dan Biggar in a niggly and ill-tempered contest that again was one for the purists rather than the enthusiast.
The result sets up a decider next Saturday after the Lions had won an attritional first test 22-17.
The Lions were 9-6 up at halftime but the Springboks bounced back with a dominant second half performance that turned the tide of the game.
“Momentum swings both ways,” Robbie Henshaw said on Sky Sports. “South Africa came out in the second half and got a bit of an edge on us in an arm-wrestle game. But a positive is that in the final Test next week, it is all to play for, which makes it exciting.
“We have to pick ourselves up next week and come back stronger. It is all to play for next week. It is finals rugby and at the top level. Everyone is going to be up for it, so it is going to be an exciting week.”
South Africa 21-9 Lions, 75 minutes
“Advantage!” Ben O’Keeffe roars, and the Springbok backs roar with him! Penalty the hosts’ way.
Again it is Vincent Koch with the initial munching, Rory Sutherland turning in under the might of the South African pack’s shove, and penalised.
South Africa 21-9 Lions, 74 minutes
No prizes for guessing what South Africa are going to do here. They maul, and maul meatily, allowing enough time for Handre Pollard to assess his kicking options. This time it is one for his own chasing pleasure, and he contests well enough with Anthony Watson to force a knock-on.
It looks on replay like Pollard might actually have got his palm to the ball first, but it will be a South African scrum feed. Three more points would certainly be nail in the coffin territory.
South Africa 21-9 Lions, 72 minutes
Tadhg Beirne is on for Courtney Lawes as the Lions just about gather a sliced Herschel Jantjies box kick. Here is Beirne on his first charge, and now nice handling puts Taulupe Faletau in a half-gap.
He’s clung on to and seeks an offload, but the number eight finds support lacking, and the broad-shouldered Malcolm Marx is on top of it. Anthony Watson won’t shift the hooker in perfect jackaling position - penalty to South Africa!
Siya Kolisi takes his leave - an outstanding performance from the South Africa captain. Marco van Staden replaces him on the openside.
PENALTY! SOUTH AFRICA 21-9 Lions (Handre Pollard penalty, 71 minutes)
He missed two from the left earlier but Handre Pollard is the coolest man in the Cape at the moment, wiping away his hair and setting the ball on its journey between the posts. That might be curtains for the Lions’ hopes this evening - South Africa are closing up shop very, very effectively.
South Africa 18-9 Lions, 69 minutes
Time ticks on by and South Africa are really managing this game well. The Lions are struggling in the air and at the lineout, and there is little reason to try anything else for the Springboks.
They win a scrum from the latest high bomb and Vincent Koch goes through Rory Sutherland to win a penalty at the set-piece. What is the call here? Points, or a chance at a kill-shot in the corner? Points it is!
South Africa 18-9 Lions, 67 minutes
Another penalty to South Africa as the Lions try to destroy that massive maul - early drive, while Eben Etzebeth was still in the air, is the call from referee Ben O’Keeffe. More of the same, please, says Handre Pollard as he kicks the penalty out further down the left touchline.
Damian Willemse comes on for Makazole Mapimpi (pictured scoring South Africa’s first try). That might mean another reshuffle for South Africa, though Willemse is a proper utility back.
South Africa 18-9 Lions, 66 minutes
A little impetuous from Rory Sutherland. The prop tries to stop the South African maul before it gathers a head of steam but is very clearly in at the side, and rightly penalised.
South Africa 18-9 Lions, 64 minutes
Anthony Watson is out of control as he leaps and he can’t cling on to another high ball, and Willie Le Roux might have capitalised as Handre Pollard threads a lovely through-grubber beyond the Lions defence, but the full-back trips just as he begins to reckon with the task of picking up the ball.
Owen Farrell answers with a nice kick of his own, finding touch with a diagonal thump towards the South African 22.
South Africa 18-9 Lions, 63 minutes
Faf de Klerk goes down screaming in pain, a non-contact issue, perhaps the hip flexor as he throws his busy left boot through yet another box kick.
Herschel Jantjies comes on.
Lineout to the Lions on the far side. Ken Owens goes to the front and South Africa have it! Two missed lineouts from Owens since coming on, and the Springboks ready his short one perfectly.
TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 18-9 Lions (Lukhanyo Am try, 61 minutes)
It stands! That is a huge, humongous, colossal call from Marius Jonker and Ben O’Keeffe. The TMO and referee decide there is no clear evidence that Am had lost it before getting it down, so they remain with the on-field call of a try.
It started with a real show of force by the South African maul, driving the Lions back some 15 minutes with repeated well-structured waves of power. That disintegrates the Lions defence, which allows Faf de Klerk an exploratory dart around the corner.
He spots an unoccupied spot behind the line and Am is fastest to the bouncing ball, just getting it down with enough pressure to satisfy the referee and his team. Handre Pollard converts. Nine points feels a big lead.
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