Brave Lions suffer late heartache in Pretoria…
June 27, 2009 12:00 am client
The British & Irish Lions suffered late late heartbreak when Francois Steyn kicked an injury time penalty to win the 2nd test 28-25 and claim the series in Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria on Saturday…
The Lions began strongly with Jamie Heaslip, debutant Luke Fitzgerald and Jamie Roberts three of the chief protagonists making serious inroads in South African territory. With Schalk Burger banished to the touchline for cynically gouging incident involving Fitzgerald, the Lions capitalised thanks to an early Stephen Jones penalty.
Then in the seventh minute Jones offloaded to Rob Kearney who found space and the Leinster man expertly dummied the South African full-back to score the first Lions try of his career. The Welsh out-half added the points from the touchline.
JP Pietersen responded almost immediately for the Springboks when he carved a line through the visitors’ defence to race in and score. Surprisingly, Ruan Pienaar missed the simple conversion in front of the posts and the Lions lead was cut to five points.
An eight-point advantage was regained moments later thanks to Jones’ third successful kick of the afternoon after some excellent work from Brian O’Driscoll and the impressive Mike Phillips.
Francois Steyn missed a 23rd minute penalty as the game see-sawed, but the Lions pack continued to dominate up front. After a sustained period of pressure Jones slotted home a drop goal in the 35th minute to give them a 16-5 lead coming up to the interval, but a long distance effort from Steyn on the stroke of half-time reduced the Lions lead to eight points at the break.
Pienaar missed two second-half penalties but the Springboks rallied and were rewarded with a try in the 63rd minute after a scything Bryan Habana run, which Steyn converted. With their tails up, the game hung in the balance when Steyn added another penalty five minutes later reducing the Lions lead to a single point, but Jones replied to punish an offside infringement by Burger.
In the 73rd minute the hosts snatched the lead through replacement Jaque Fourie who squeezed into the corner, which Steyn expertly converted, to set up a nail-biting finale. Trailing by three points, the Lions levelled the scores when Jones stepped up and slotted home a penalty after a high tackle.
South Africa then sent their supporters into delirium with a last minute penalty from Steyn after Ronan O’Gara was harshly adjudged to have high tackled.
South Africa (8) 28
Tries: Pietersen, Habana, Fourie Con: M Steyn 2 Pens: F Steyn, M Steyn 2
Lions (16) 25
Tries: Kearney Con: S Jones Pens: S Jones 5 Drop-goal: S Jones
F Steyn (Sharks); JP Pietersen (Sharks), A Jacobs (Sharks), J de Villiers (Stormers), B Habana (Bulls); R Pienaar (Sharks), F du Preez (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), B du Plessis (Sharks), J Smit (Sharks, CAPTAIN), B Botha (Bulls), V Matfield (Bulls), S Burger (Stormers), J Smith (Cheetahs), P Spies (Bulls)
REPLACEMENTS: C Ralepelle (Bulls), D Carstens (Sharks), A Bekker (Stormers), D Rossouw (Bulls), H Brussow (Cheetahs), J Fourie (Lions), M Steyn (Bulls)
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS:
R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), B O’Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues and Wales), L Fitzgerald (Leinster and Ireland); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), M Phillips (Ospreys and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues and Wales), M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), A Jones (Ospreys and Wales), S Shaw (Wasps and England), P O’Connell (Munster and Ireland, CAPTAIN), T Croft (Leicester and England), D Wallace (Munster and Ireland), J Heaslip (Leinster and Ireland)
REPLACEMENTS: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks and England), A-W Jones (Ospreys and Wales), M Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England), R O’Gara (Munster and Ireland), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales)
REFEREE: Christophe Berdos (France)