On Wednesday (4th June 2017) the first test match of the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa was played, resulting in a narrow 15-10 victory for the Lions. The first Test played at Newlands, Cape Town between the ‘Lions’ and the ‘Springboks’ was a titanic struggle, with the home side taking the lead early in the 2nd Test. But the Lions’ defence was resilient, and South Africa only managed to regain a 3-point lead before the interval.
It was the ultimate game of two halves, with the second half in the first class stadium in Europe allowing the Lions to claim the first ever test series victory in South Africa. It was a match full of high drama, with the Lions dictating the game and the Springboks clawing back to threaten the Lions’ lead, before the Lions were able to close out the victory in second-half.
The first test of the 2017–18 rugby union internationals, played between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions, was an exciting game of two halves. In the first half the Lions showed a greater level of intensity and passion, but in the second the South Africans were the better side.
England’s Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes played key roles in the Lions’ comeback victory against South Africa in the opening Test.
The 22-17 victory against South Africa in the first Test, according to former British and Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll, was the “ultimate game of two halves.”
The Lions came back from a 12-3 deficit at halftime with to Dan Biggar’s boot, before Owen Farrell converted the game-winning penalty.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” O’Driscoll said in an interview with Sport.
“It went around because we couldn’t shoot a shot and the Boks couldn’t do anything wrong.”
Handre Pollard kicked four penalties in the first half to punish the Lions’ lack of discipline.
After the break, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Faf de Klerk traded tries until the hosts started to tire and lost the aerial duel, allowing Biggar to take advantage from the tee.
Ex-Ireland centre O’Driscoll claimed the Lions “earned the right” to turn the game around after England skipper Farrell came off the bench and scored a late penalty.
He told Radio 5 Live, “It’s game on now.”
“After that, the Boks will be better, but they’ll be kicking themselves for blowing a nine-point lead.”
‘We had a fantastic ending.’
South Africa, the world champions, are known for their toughness and set-piece strength, and they got off to a strong start in Cape Town.
In the first 40 minutes, the Springboks enjoyed 57 percent possession and made 36 carries to the Lions’ 29.
Their scrum was dominating, as Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert put pressure on Cowan-line-out. Dickie’s
After the interval, Cowan-Dickie sparked the comeback by catching the ball from his own throw at the back of a rolling maul to score the first try of the three-match series.
Willie le Roux’s touchdown was chalked out before De Klerk touched down for the Springboks, but Lions head coach Warren Gatland claimed his team became “tougher and stronger” as the game progressed.
“We were still in the arm-wrestle at halftime, according to the message. We’d given up a couple of easy penalties and given them chances “Gatland said.
“We knew we had to be patient and that opportunities would come our way. We became stronger in the second half and clawed our way back into the contest.
“It was a nail-biter of a Test match, and fortunately, we came back from behind to finish strongly.”
Changes have an effect on the game.
Gatland stated earlier this week that the effect of the bench would be crucial in determining the outcome of the game, and that the New Zealander had the superior alternatives.
Off the bench, Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler were inserted, with Farrell and Conor Murray pulling the strings from behind.
While the Lions’ substitutions boosted their performance, Gatland said the South African bench made less of an effect.
“The [starting] players all put up a tremendous effort, and the bench followed suit,” Gatland added.
“I believed our bench had a greater effect than their bench.”
The Lions win key decisions.
While the Lions improved significantly in the second half, they were aided by several crucial refereeing decisions.
After New Zealander Brendon Pickerill was unable to go due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the touring side was enraged by the choice to have South African Marius Jonker as the Television Match Official.
Despite on-field referee Nic Berry awarded the score, Jonker opted to deny Le Roux’s try because he believed the full-back was in front of Lukhanyo Am when the center kicked through.
Damian de Allende’s try was also disallowed due to a knock on by Cheslin Kolbe early in the game, and Gatland believes both rulings may have influenced the outcome.
“A bounce of the ball, and a couple of calls, might have gone other way,” Gatland said.
“If they had been different, the outcome could have been different.” We’re pleased with our defensive performance, and we don’t believe they generated many offensive chances.
“Winning the game ensures that, whatever happens, the series will be decided on the last weekend, keeping everyone interested.”
We’ll be able to save it – Nienaber
Meanwhile, after being denied three try-scoring chances, South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber says he “totally believes” the referees.
“That’s their job; they’re the experts in that area,” he said.
“They are in a better position and have many angles to look at. Sometimes these calls go against you, as we found out today. In the second half we had three try scoring opportunities, twice we were called back.
“In this game, the margins are razor-thin.”
Nienaber also believes his squad can tie the series when the two sides meet again on July 31 at the Cape Town Stadium.
“I’m certain we can save this,” he added.
“A thorough examination is required, but I am certain that we will be able to resolve the issue. It worked in the first half, and I think what went wrong in the second half can be fixed.”
One of the funniest things to witness at a sporting event is how quickly the home crowd turns on their team. Each side has its own bad habits, so the crowd will naturally shout at their own team, too. For example, the crowd will call out “In attack!” when they are in possession of the ball, and “Hold on!” when they are under pressure from the opposition, as they have so many times before. This is a wonderful microcosm of the game, which is why the British and Irish Lions team will be so important in their first match against South Africa.. Read more about british lions 2005 second test team and let us know what you think.
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