Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Lions kept up their unbeaten record in South Africa as they came away with a 20-8 win against the newly formed Southern Kings, at the highly impressive Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
At over 35 000, the biggest crowd of the series so far came out to see a contest, and that is what they got, as this bruising encounter was perhaps the most physical of the tour to date.
The Kings, who had only been together a week before taking to the field, were a mix of characters that included some ex Springboks, a few Bulls regulars, returning overseas players, and a couple of Springbok Sevens stars.
From the outset it was clear that the massive Lions pack wasnt going to intimidate them, as they took it to them physically, and won the contest at the breakdown regularly.
The tourists got their points by way of two unconvincing tries, the first from Ugo Monye and the second from referee Nigel Owens, who awarded a penalty try as the Kings pack disintegrated.
Ronan OGara came on for the injured James Hook, contributing 10 points with the boot, as well as setting up the Monye try with a neat crosskick.
The Kings though, looked the more organised unit as scrumhalf Francois Hougaard controlled from the base superbly, before he left the field injured, resulting in a the game changing in momentum slightly.
Playing the match with 14 men for 60 minutes didnt help the home sides cause either. That said, Sevens star Mpho Mbiyozo was named Man of the Match for his excellent work around the park, at the breakdown, and for scoring their only try.
Once again though, it was the Test experience of the Lions that got them home, as they hung in and saw off the pressure, resulting in the win.
Looking at the way the Lions failed to assert their authority, as well as being dominated at the breakdown, is there in fact serious cause for concern?
Or perhaps its quite simply a case of job done, bring on Durban for the first Test on Saturday.