The British and Irish Lions have lost 17-13 to a very strong South Africa ‘A’ side in a fiery contest in Cape Town.
Early pressure saw the South African side, made up mostly of experienced Springboks and Rugby World Cup winners, claim all the momentum and score first thanks to a Sbu Nkosi try down the left wing.
Cheslin Kolbe then fed captain Lukhanyo Am for after a dazzling piece of play, allowing the home side to go into the half with a 17-3 lead, despite losing two players to the sin bin after immense pressure from the visitors.
— 32-12 (@BoknRoll) July 14, 2021
Faf de Klerk went off for a no-arms tackle then minutes later Marco van Staden also left the field after repeated infringements.
The Lions came back strong with a try to Wyn Jones and two penalties from Owen Farrell, but narrowly missed out on a few moments that could have gone their way, namely with Louis Rees-Zammit in the corner.
Veteran Morne Steyn, the hero from the 2009 series, missed late opportunities from the tee and with a drop goal, but South Africa ‘A’ had done enough to hold on despite the Lions pressure.
🙌 It’s all over at Cape Town Stadium, where South Africa ‘A have put in a great second half defensive display to beat @lionsofficial by 17-13.#CastleLionsSeries #StrongerTogether #StrongerForever pic.twitter.com/GwUaruUPYw
— Springboks (@Springboks) July 14, 2021
“I’m proud of the team, we now know where we are at, and we can analyse where we need to improve,” home captain Am said.
“We are happy with the performance and excited to be back in the mix. There is lots to build on. It was a tough outing, we certainly took some knocks and bruises.”
Lions coach Warren Gatland spoke of positivity despite the result.
“I’m proud of the boys coming back from 17-3 down. These Test matches are going to be a real arm wrestle and that’s what it was this evening, that’s as close to a Test match as you’re going to get,” said Gatland.
The Lions next face the Stormers before commencing the official three-Test series.
South Africa ‘A’ 17 (17) – Tries: Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am. Conversions: Morne Steyn (2). Penalty goal: Steyn.
British & Irish Lions 13 (3) – Try: Wyn Jones. Conversion Owen Farrell. Penalty goals: Owen Farrell (2).