Red hot Lions finally defeat South Africa

Roscoe Tims July 5, 2009 18

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British & Irish Lions 28 South Africa 9

Justice 4 all was done in last night’s Springbok v British and Irish Lions test match. It may not have been a classic confrontation like last week’s blockbuster at Loftus but it was another torrid encounter which the Lions won, inflicting a serious defeat on a South African team that had an experimental look to it. A test match nonetheless, where more than a few pundits thought the Springboks would prevail.

I thought some important Afrikaner had died when I saw all of them come out wearing white armbands; however, this outpouring of grief was only about Bakkie’s demise, not from this mortal coil but from mortal combat due to a prior conviction, or a ‘previous’ as Arfur’ Daley would call it. This symbolism seemed a little bit over the top but hey, there is a poodle faker currently in charge so anything’s possible. We haven’t heard the last of this.

The British Lions (why bother with the Irish bit, it’s way too long and everyone knows they’ve always been part of it….touchy feely politically correct bullshit…a bit like that bloody NZ anthem where they’ve added the Maori bit, completely unnecessary and boring as batshit. I’m sure it’s designed just to make it bigger than ours) were in need of a win; they haven’t had one since the 2001 First Test in Australia and it was starting to look a little embarrassing for Northern Hemisphere rugby. Not quite as embarrassing as a recent poll of NRL players, where two thirds of them said they were ashamed to be associated with the rugby league code, but embarrassing nonetheless.

This was indeed the last throw of the dice for the Brits and probably their best chance of winning a test in South Africa, now that the poodle faker had come up with his cunning plan. The Lions needed to rock’nroll with some rip snortin’ rugby at Coke Stadium in front of 58,000 fans. And snort they did. They completely dominated the first half scoring two great tries to the diminutive Shane Williams, who looked in baie lekker form. An intercept try to Ugo Monye pretty well sealed it early in the second half and, combined with a Bokke lack of rhythm and a little later, a breakdown in discipline,  they essentially cruised to a win.

You’d all like to know how Phil Vickery got on again against The Beast, wouldn’t you?  I reckon Vicks had a top game for someone so recently pensioned off. He was dynamic around the park and at the breakdown, even having a few trundles with the ball in hand as well. There is something between the cauliflowers after all, ‘cos his scrummaging game has improved markedly. The first scrum saw Chilli crabbed and popped, with The Beast heading skyward as well. It was like chalk and cheese from that first test. I was actually wondering whether Fole’s hadn’t been over there incognito, giving them some proper instruction. The Lions had the better of the scrums but there were heaps of resets, collapsing, feigning, not binding and The Beast is serially boring!

The lineouts were, in the end, even on the throw. There has been a big improvement in the Brit lineout over the three tests, with O’Connell in particular securing plenty of ball last night.  The breakdown was really interesting as there were lots of turnovers from both sides, in fact about a dozen each. As you’d expect, Brussow was dynamic in this area but Martyn Williams, Croft (when he was on) and a few others were damn effective as well. The Lions were very physical at the breakdown this week and looked to have won that battle. There were again plenty of injuries and replacements mainly due to the heavy hitting.

It seemed to me that the Bokkies just weren’t in the right frame of mind last night. They had won the series and this was a dead rubber. That, combined with the 10 changes left them being somewhat unstructured and they didn’t have the same level of cohesion as last week. I thought their loosies were their strength with Brussow, Juan Smith and Kankowski being standouts.

I have to again mention (for the last time) the halftime entertainment Kobus Headroom, Cherry Guscott and Nasty Booter. Those headphones make Kobus look like he’s just rocked up in the Tardis, via Torchwood. I reckon he’s the Stig, with helmet. Nasty was all over the place again this week trying to jam 8 or 9 plays into the minute they gave him with little or no tactical appreciation or spatial awareness. Nasty is no Kafe. I reckon he’d be better off at the braie in the carpark.

The first quarter of the match was played mainly in Bokkie territory. A penalty to the Lions after that first memorable Chilli scrum (they were penalised as well popped) gave them a 3-0 lead. In the 11th minute Morné Steyn kicked one for South Africa to even it up at 3-3. There was plenty of ball in the air. At 24th minute, Heaslip burst through the gap out in the centres and unloaded to Shane Williams for his first try. Jones missed the conversion 8-3. In the 32nd minute a steal by Croft (who was a blood bin replacement for Worsley) went through the hands and Flutey, the pakeha Maori, chipped over the defensive line. He regathered by flicking the ball backwards towards Shane Williams. Williams miraculously caught it and had a clear run for the line. A brace for the Welsh wizard. Jones converted to take it to 15-3. A late Steyn penalty took the halftime score to 15-6.

There were a few changes made by the Boks with Bismark on for Chilli and Pienaar for du Preez. In the 50th minute a good Springbok move unfortunately ended with Kirchner knocking on over the line. At the 53 minute mark, Monye intercepted an attacking ball from Olivier to Kirchner to run the length of the field and score under the posts. The conversion took it to 22-6. A host of changes then took place. Hayes came on for Vicks and did a sterling job in keeping The Beast, then Steenkamp honest. Phillips ended up at five eighth, Ellis at half and Jones at inside centre. For the Bokkies, Francois Steyn on for Kirchner and Spies actually ended up on the wing, which is not a surprise considering his speed.

A 67th minute penalty for Steyn led into the period where the Boks lost their shape. They also started some unnecessary niggle and lost their discipline. In the 75th minute Ndungane crossed the tryline but the TMO, Bryce Lawrence declared him to be out over the touchline. The TMO took 138 replays to work that one out, although after all that I sense he may have in fact got it wrong.  Two more penalties to Jones and the game finished at 28-9.

The Lions wanted to win this game more than the Bokkies. Their commitment and intensity were higher and they thoroughly deserved the result.  There isn’t that much between these two sides as evidenced by the scores in each game. A little luck and the Lions could have easily drawn or won last week and we’d be playing for an equaliser or decider this week. For the Lions Kearney was again a class act at the rear, Bowe and Flutey had effective games in attack and (particularly) defence. The Lions forwards including O’Connell, Shaw, Vicks, Heaslip and Sheridan worked their arses off. Shane Williams had a terrific all round game and was named man of the match but I thought it should have gone to Heaslip.

For the Bokkies Brussow, Juan Smith, Kankowski and Smit were all prominent in the forward exchanges. Olivier and particularly Jacque Fourie were very solid in the midfield. Kirchner had a tidy debut at fullback. The team for the first Tri-Nations test will inevitably be the one that took the field last week. This has been a very competitive, intense  and enjoyable test series, fully living up to the billing. There’s just something about a Lions tour……

British & Irish Lions 28 (Shane Williams 2, Ugo Monye tries; Stephen Jones 2 cons 3 pens) South Africa 9 (Morne Steyn 3 pens)


  • Chris

    Why bother with the Irish bit? eh…did you really write that?

    So if Aus and NZ made up a team we could just call them the All Blacks…would you be happy with that??


    • Gagger

      Hehe, Lance I don’t think you’re gonna be getting the Consul job in Dublin any time soon.

  • Gagger

    Agree with the honourable mentions LF, thought Kearney was again majestic and Flutey enjoyed finally playing in a team who knew what to do with the pill. Interestingly the Boks couldn’t live with the pace of super quick ball.

    For the Boks, out of a poor performance (deserved with those fucking teenager armbands) I thought Broussow was ominously good and Morne Steyn was again solid.

    Hope Gits & Barnes are practising short chip kicks (KB Style) behind the scrum and rucks. Worked a treat.

    Thought Dicko also had a good game with the whistle

  • CanadianRugby

    I think “Ominously good” is an excellent way to describe Broussow. The guy comes up with more loose ball than anyone not named George Smith (and he’s close to George Smith). As a Wallaby fan I would probably prefer to play Burger instead of Broussow, on current form.

  • Juan Cote

    This was the best rugby series since the Lions played the Wallabies in 2001.

    What a difference a tour makes rather than pointless one off tests, or in some cases the even stranger, two test series.

    The British press will crap on about all the reasons why the Lions are no longer a viable entity, but how can they?

    After the All-Blacks, the Lions are surely the most iconic rugby team in the world.

    Broussow is a demon huh!

    The Bokkies looked fragile in defence after a few phases, their line was all over the place and they get very narrow in defence.

  • Sagerian

    The British Lions (why bother with the Irish bit, it’s way too long and everyone knows they’ve always been part of it….touchy feely politically correct bullshit…

    Well if it was just the British Lions, they would have been pounded 3-0, before the series started I was calling this team the Irish and Welsh Lions, because that’s what they were. You can’t leave the Irish out just cos it makes the name too long. :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

    Was a good game, great bit of skill shown by Flutey on that second Shane Williams try.

    Glad they got a win back, but still disappointed in the way the series went down.

    Looking forward to the Tri-Nations now. Apart from early in the first test, the South African scrum was taken to school for much of the series. So much for the beast.

  • Lance Free

    The British & Irish Lions used to be called the British Lions until 2001 (before 1950 they were known as the British Isles). The change was brought about by political correctness because we don’t want to offend Paddy’s sensibilities, as they’re technically not British….. The Irish rugby side is not called the Eire and Northern Ireland rugby team, although they’re from two discrete countries, so why should the Lions be?

    The great thing about the Irish rugby team (and the Lions) is that they were the only code that included players from both sides of the border during the Troubles. The Four Home Unions have been in partnership forever and I hate to see change for no good reason at all.

    Now as for that bloody NZ anthem…..

    • Sagerian

      Well that definitely makes sense when you bring the Ireland/Northern Ireland argument into it. Good call.

      I still like that Ireland is in the title mind you. :)

  • Rob Deans

    I’m fed up with the whole TMO system. It seriously needs to be revamped to give better information or its not worth having. I mean 20+ replays and the TMO still had to guess? is it really helping the game or making it more enjoyable for spectators?

    • Sagerian

      It’s worth having but there’s been some close calls on this tour. The try you’re talking about in the 3rd test looked ok to me, yet the late try in the second test I wouldn’t have given.

      TMO system should stay but I think two people need to be in the booth.

      • Moses

        So they can disagree? Maybe three people to break the gridlock. Or perhaps a jury of 13…

        • Sagerian

          Well it just seems like even the TMO is looking at the wrong thing sometimes. I mean in the 3rd test he got about 50 views of the grounding but only 2 or 3 on if his foot was in touch.

          I mean here at work we always prefer to have a second pair of eyes look over something before it goes production,

          It’s a good way in case the first person has missed something is all I’m saying.

          P.S. A jury of 13 is just ridiculous. 7 would be the most you’d want.

    • Ed

      Surely they should have got benefit of the doubt. I can’t remember the last time a close call went in favour of the attacking team.

      Close is good enough

  • Jo


    Did you mean “braai”?

    • Lance Free

      Mine was the Dutch spelling, Jo….but baie danke for your concern.

  • Will

    Love it love it love it. Brilliant article and a brilliant picture.

    Will be definately supporting the aussies in the Tri-nations.

    Will- a proud lion. ye we lost the series but the Lions are back.

    • Lance Free

      Thanks Will. Tell your mates about G&GR. Just for you….I vill say zis vonce, and vonce only…..the British…..& Irish Lions….to be sure, to be sure.

      I really enjoyed the test series, tremendous atmosphere and super competitive. I especially liked the Lions expansive playing style. The centres in particular were outstanding and Rob Kearney is the real deal. I thought the Lions were a little unlucky but they’re back and that can only be good for world rugby.

      • http://patrick patrick

        Back where they belong, losing manfully to SH teams?