Steyn seals the series for the Springboks

Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Sportsfile

THE Lions have fallen short of a series win in Cape town due to a late penalty from the Springboks replacement out-half Morne Steyn, a mirror image of Steyn’s series winning kick against the Lions in 2009.

Warren Gatland’s men have succumbed 16 – 19 to the World Champion Springboks in the final test of the 2021 Lions series. Despite the relatively low score, the game itself was a perfect example of fast tempo, brute physicality and naturally, costly inaccuracies.

Lions out-half Dan Biggar squandered the opportunity to take the Lions three points up in the games opening minutes. However not long after that missed kick, Biggar was removed from the pitch due to an apparent injury and replaced by Scottish maestro Finn Russell.

The Boks were the first to strike in the form of an Handre Pollard penalty, only to be responded to with a superb penalty kick from Russell just minutes later.

The Lions built on the momentum initiated by Russell and found themselves with a line out on the Bok’s 5-meter line. Lions hooker Ken Owens let a powerful rolling maul to earn the Lions their first but only try of the game, a no fuss conversion from Russell put the Lions into a 7 point lead.

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A missed opportunity from Liam Williams to ship the ball to Adams in space, left a good chance at a second Lions try misspent. It wasn’t long before the South Africans hit back as another penalty from Pollard narrowed the gap to just 4 points.

The Lions had most of the territory and possession in the first half but when the half time whistle blew, the Lions had just a 4 point lead to show for from what was a physical opening 40-minutes.

The Springboks however, seemed to gather most of their attacking momentum upon the games resumption. A Tom Curry penalty put the Lions into the danger seat early in the second half, yet the Lions were granted a portion of luck as Pollard’s penalty kick attempt struck the post.

That luck reached well into the second half for the Lions, as a TMO review cleared Finn Russell for a high challenge on Cheslin Kolbe. The potential red card offence was reduced to a mere penalty as Kolbe slipped just before the contact, yet Pollard pushed his shot at the posts wide once again.

The Springboks continued to dictate the game’s central elements while the Lions struggled to get out of their own half. The significant Springbok momentum crescendoed when a high ball found it’s way into the hands of Bok’s full-back Willie Le Roux, making a break deep into lions territory before passing to Toulouse superstar Cheslin Kolbe.

Kolbe slipped by Liam Williams and Luke Cowan-Dickie to dot down in the corner, finishing what could arguably be one of the greatest tries in Lions series history. A lengthy TMO review awarded Kolbe’s try to the Springboks and allowed Pollard to step up and add the extra 3.

Gatland replaced Ali Price with Conor Murray with 20 minutes left on the clock, in the hope of regaining some control back from the Springboks. Finn Russell also tried to reel back the South African’s momentum, slotting a lengthy penalty from just inside the half-way line to bring the sides level.

It wasn’t long before Russell’s efforts were cancelled out, as replacement out-half Morne Steyn slotted a tricky penalty to regain the lead. Amazingly, Russell kicked to bring the sides level once again as the game entered its final few minutesl.

The game concluded with a penalty on Lions back-row Courtney Lawes, who was pinged for not rolling away in the games second last minute. This gave Steyn the chance to seal his second Lions test series in favour of the Springboks, of which he made no mistake.

Final Score: 19 – 16 in favour of South Africa.

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