SA 'A' beat B&I Lions despite two yellow cards
MATCH REPORT: South Africa ‘A’ survived two yellow cards to claim a narrow 17-13 win over the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday at Cape Town Stadium.
*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!
The defeat is the British and Irish Lions’ first loss on tour.
Trailing by 14 points at half-time, the tourists scored 10 unanswered points in the second half, but a Zander Fagerson knock-on in the final minute cost them a chance to snatch victory.
A Springbok-packed South Africa ‘A’ side won despite being temporarily reduced to 13 men just before half-time when scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and flank Marco van Staden were sin-binned.
Before the kick-off, Lions captain and scrumhalf Conor Murray called the fourth match of the Lions tour a “fourth Test” given the strength of the South Africa squad.
His assessment was spot on as the Lions, who had earlier scored 27 tries in three runaway victories over weak franchise sides, suddenly came up against strong opposition.
The Lions should have little difficulty overcoming another franchise, the Stormers, in Cape Town on Saturday, but then comes a three-Test series against world champions South Africa from July 24.
It was a mixed day for the visitors as they earlier received a boost with the news that original tour captain and lock Alun Wyn Jones had been passed fit to join the tour.
Jones suffered a shoulder injury in a warm-up against Japan on June 26 and withdrew from the tour only to make a remarkable recovery and is expected to arrive in Cape Town on Thursday.
Ronan Kelleher flew with Wyn Jones, swelling the number of hookers available to coach Warren Gatland to four for the remaining four matches.
All the South Africa A points came within 34 minutes as flyhalf Morne Steyn, who turned 37 last Sunday, kicked a penalty and converted tries by wing Sibusiso Nkosi and captain and centre Lukhanyo Am.
A concern for the hosts will be an early second half injury to star flanker and reigning World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit. He was replaced by Rynhardt Elstadt.
Flyhalf Owen Farrell, a last-minute replacement after Dan Biggar suffered a minor ankle sprain, slotted two penalties and added the extra points to a try from prop Wyn Jones.
Man of the match: SA A captain Lukhnayo Am was in fine form. B&I Lions Owen Farrell was one of the standout performers for his team and his game management was impressive. Tom Curry’s work rate was immense, he made more than a dozen tackles. However, our nod goes to SA A lock Eben Etzebeth. He played as a man possessed. He made solid tackles and his charged down on Owen Farrell led to the team’s first try.
Moment of the match: Cheslin Kolbe produced a moment of magic when he side-stepped through a couple of defenders before offloading to Am for the try in the 31st minutes.
Villian: South Africa’s discipline. Faf De Klerk and Marco Van Strande both received yellow cards on the verge of half-time.
For South Africa A:
Tries: Nkosi, Am
Cons: Steyn 2
For British and Irish Lions:
Pens: Farrell 2
Yellow cards: Faf De Klerk (South Africa ‘A’, 38 – foul play), Marco van Staden (South Africa ‘A’ 40 – repeat infringements)
South Africa A: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements (from): 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Damian Willemse, 24 Kwagga Smith, 25 Elton Jantjies
British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Conor Murray (captain_, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Tadhg Beirne, 21 Sam Simmonds, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Elliot Daly.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)