Springboks v British and Irish Lions: Warren Gatland’s Lions win first test in Cape Town
25 July, 2021, 10:34 am
Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions shrugged off a shoddy first half to overcome world champion South Africa 22-17 in their tense first test of three at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The Lions responded to trailing 12-3 at halftime with a bolder, disciplined and tactically superior second half. What also came to fruition was their belief they had better fitness and a better bench.
The Lions out-scored the Springboks 19-5 in the second half, grabbed the lead for the first time in the 62nd minute and held on.
The teams scored a try each, both in the third quarter, and South Africa had two other tries ruled out.
Gatland was both delighted and relieved at the result.
“A bounce of the ball could have gone either way, and a couple of calls as well,’’ the Lions’ Kiwi coach told television.
“If they had been different it might have affected the result. We are happy with how we defended and we don’t think they created a lot of attacking opportunities.
“Winning the game means, whatever happens, the series will go to the last weekend which keeps everyone engaged.”
The Lions were under the most pressure to take advantage of a South Africa side which was on ice for 19 months and playing only their second test since winning the Rugby World Cup in November 2019.
The Lions have never won a series in South Africa after losing the first test, but can now look with confidence at beating the Springboks in a series for the first time in 24 years.
Alun Wyn Jones, ruled out of the tour four weeks ago by a dislocated shoulder, showed the value of his four-tour experience and leadership at the start of the second half when he waved off a kickable penalty to go for an attacking lineout.