Morne Steyn was the hero for South Africa as, just like in 2009, his penalty proved decisive in a 19-16 series-clinching win over the British and Irish Lions.

Steyn had last made a Test appearance for the Springboks back in 2016 but the 37-year-old came on from the bench to prove the difference in Cape Town.

Having replaced Handre Pollard, whose kicking was off in the second half, Steyn converted two penalties to secure a hard-fought victory from a tense tussle.

After Steyn's first effort, Finn Russell's penalty seemed to have sent the series to a draw, only for Steyn’s boot to once again prove the Lions' downfall with a 79th-minute three-pointer.

The Lions seemed to have been handed an early blow when Dan Biggar was forced off injured after attempting to tackle Lukhanyo Am, wth Pollard converting South Africa's resulting penalty.

However, Biggar's replacement Russell kicked a penalty five minutes after his introduction to restore parity as he asserted himself on proceedings.

Russell was kicking again soon after, this time adding the extras after Ken Owens marked his maiden Lions Test start by bundling over at the back of the maul for the first try.

A second Pollard penalty reduced the deficit, while Russell had a fortunate escape when he made direct contact with Cheslin Kolbe's head, a slip from the South Africa winger helping the Lions remain at full strength.

Pollard's penalty dropped just short, yet the Springboks finally found the breakthrough moments later, Kolbe holding off Luke Cowan-Dickie's challenge to race over in the corner after a loose ball had broken in South Africa's favour – the try standing after a long TMO review for a possible knock-on from Jasper Wiese.

An Ali Price error handed South Africa a chance to extend their lead, though the Lions held firm and Russell kept his cool at the other end to arrow a three-pointer through the posts after Eben Etzebeth's mistake.

Steyn, South Africa's hero in the 2009 series, entered the fray with 16 minutes remaining, and his first act was to nose the hosts back ahead.

Am's foul on Conor Murray handed Russell the chance to level the scores, an opportunity which the Scot took coolly, but it was Steyn who had the final say.

Herschel Jantjies tried to run the ball after the Boks were awarded a penalty 40 metres out, though fortunately the referee called it back, with Steyn holding his nerve to down the Lions.


OLD NEMESIS STEYN BACK TO HAUNT THE LIONS

Steyn kicked the penalty which settled the 2009 Lions tour in South Africa's favour, and history repeated itself on Saturday.

His 67th Test cap will last long in the memory for South Africa – two penalty opportunities, two successful attempts and a series win. He made four kicks in total in his 18 minutes on the field, including the final one out of play to signal full time and the end of the series. 

South Africa's triumph also means all three matches in this year's Test series were won by the side trailing at half-time.

RUSSELL'S EFFORTS NOT ENOUGH

Like his fellow substitute Steyn, Russell ended the match with a perfect record from the boot – all three of his penalties and his conversion finding the target as he collected 11 points.

It was all in vain, however, and Warren Gatland will be left to lament the indiscipline his team showed in the second half after getting themselves into a strong position. Six Lions tours have gone to a deciding game since they became three-Test series in 1989, with the tourists losing on three occasions, winning twice and drawing once.

Noah Lolesio's wayward kicking cost Australia at Eden Park on Saturday, but the Wallabies plan to keep faith with their young fly-half.

Lolesio, 21, entered the Bledisloe Cup opener against New Zealand with 52 Test points in 2021, trailing only Johnny Sexton (65) among players for tier one nations.

But he added just five in a 33-25 All Blacks victory, missing two of three penalties and three of four conversions.

Windy conditions did not help Lolesio, yet his profligacy proved the difference between the sides as Australia's run of defeats in Auckland – where Lolesio was born – extended to 21 Tests.

Coach Dave Rennie was in forgiving mood, though, with the number 10 having contributed 23 points in a series decider against France just last month.

"He was sensational in the French series and you don't go from an ace goal kicker to a novice overnight," Rennie said. "Tough conditions – we saw Richie [Mo'unga] miss as well.

"He kicked penalties in the French series to win the first and third Test and one that should have won us the second one. Yes, he'll be disappointed.

"We've got a lot of faith in the kid. He's going to get better and better, he's 21 and there are a lot of young men around him as well.

"He's growing and he's an impressive kid, too, very confident, great work ethic, he's spending a lot of time sitting around with Quade [Cooper] and talking about the generic parts of his game.

"He played pretty well tonight, but he had a rough night with the boot."

Captain Michael Hooper added: "We pick each other up. As Dave said, his boot guided us through a series win.

"In a goal kicker's career, there's going to be nights like that. He'll be better from it. He'll learn from that for sure."

New Zealand's Eden Park fortress remained unbreached as they took the Bledisloe Cup opener 33-25 against Australia following a clinical second-half spell.

The All Blacks have not lost to the Wallabies in Auckland since 1986 and have momentum to take into next week's Rugby Championship encounter at the same venue again.

Australia were in this contest throughout but allowed the scoreline to get away from them as Richie Mo'unga, David Havili and Damian McKenzie crossed in a 14-minute period.

That left a mountain to climb, with a double from Tom Banks and Jordan Uelese's try not enough, largely due to a poor kicking game from Noah Lolesio in tricky winds.

Those gusts played in Mo'unga's favour as he dispatched two early penalties and then stretched the All Blacks' lead to nine after Lolesio's kick faded right, one of several wayward Wallabies efforts.

Lolesio did get on the board with his next attempt before Andrew Kellaway burst through for the first try, but New Zealand finished the half firmly on top and Sevu Reece forced the ball over heading into the break.

Reece thought he had a second soon after the restart, finishing off one of the great Test moves from his team's own try line only for the score to be pulled back for a forward pass from Aaron Smith.

However, another sensational break brought the All Blacks joy as Mo'unga intercepted inside his own half and raced through, with the hosts really hitting their stride as Havili and McKenzie each touched down in the corner.

Australia finally got the response their pressure merited through Banks on the left and he toed the ball away to score again following Lolesio's incisive kick.

But repeated misses from the tee meant Uelese's try in the final seconds counted for little.

Not Noah's day

Johnny Sexton (65) is the sole player from a Tier One country with more Test points this year than Lolesio, but his tally only improved to 57 on a testing day.

Just one of his three penalties found the target, while he also missed three conversions in a row before belatedly hitting the mark when Uelese went over.

Out of touch

Australia had lost just one of their previous six Tests, including a victory over New Zealand in November 2020. However, each of those six matches had been decided by margins of no more than three points.

When the Wallabies were picked apart at the start of the second half and the lead reached 25 points, any hopes of back-to-back wins over the All Blacks for the first time since 2001 were all but over.

The British and Irish Lions lock horns with South Africa once more in Saturday's decider, with the Test series on the line at 1-1 as it boils down to the final game.

The Lions battled to a 22-17 opening victory but will now have to lick their wounds and respond to the heavy 27-9 defeat that the Springboks inflicted in Cape Town last Saturday.

While Warren Gatland's men eye a first series win on South African soil since 1997 in the winner-takes-all showdown, the Boks are also aiming to piece together consecutive series successes over the tourists for the first time since 1962-1968.

Each of Gatland's three Lions series have gone to the wire, though it will be a tough task to bounce back from South Africa's comeback victory last time out.

Having suffered an 18-point loss, the Lions head coach has made a host of changes, bringing in front-row forwards Ken Owens and Wyn Jones alongside scrum-half Ali Price, full-back Liam Williams, wing Josh Adams and centre Bundee Aki.

Despite Gatland's changes tailoring to the pre-existing strategy of matching their opponents physically, attack coach Gregor Townsend insisted creativity would be the key to overcoming Siya Kolisi's reigning world champions.

"If you create opportunities, you have more chance of winning the game," Townsend said. "You may create more through pressure. We know we have to control the game more by moving South Africa around, draining them of energy whenever we can."

The introduction of Finn Russell, who Townsend explained "can ask different questions than any fly-half in the world," on the bench for Owen Farrell may offer the tourists that.

The Boks, in contrast, make just the two enforced changes. Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk miss out through injury, opening up room for Lood de Jager and Cobus Reinach to start.

De Jager's arrival will force Franco Mostert into the back row role he filled after 55 minutes last time out. Indeed, Mostert's shift gained control of the lineout, ensuring the hosts won the remainder of the game 16-0.

 

Discipline key

The war of words between both camps, following Rassie Erasmus' remarkable campaign against the match officials, carried over onto the pitch in the second Test, yet Kyle Sinckler was the only player cited amid a hostile showing from both teams.

However, if the Lions are to succeed in the decider, they must remain composed in response to the Boks' contentious style of game management.

Gatland commented on the "stop-start" nature of the first two Tests but Courtney Lawes maintained his team "can't get too caught up in the niggle of stuff, scrapping."

"They can throw their handbags around, as long as we can get the ball out and play some rugby," the 32-year-old added.

Kolisi jumped to the defence of his side, who have been accused of time-wasting and suffocating games to their benefit, declaring: "If there are niggles we can't leave a man behind. That's our system and what we believe in."

 

Aerial bombardment

The Lions struggled under the high ball in the second Test and any chance of success for Gatland's men largely hangs on the aerial performances of their back three.

Duhan van der Merwe has endured a mixed tour so far, with a positive first outing and a fairly poor second showing. He is joined by Williams and Adams who will go head-to-head with key Springboks Willie le Roux and Makazole Mapimpi.

The latter battle between two try machines promises to be a thriller. Adams leads the Lions' scoring charts with eight tries in four appearances, though Mapimpi also boasts an impressive 15 in 16 internationals.

In response to the tourists' heaviest defeat since 2005, Gatland has rolled the dice in his selections and, if the Lions can get the ball in hand and play as opposed to battling themselves into the ground, they have a chance of legacy-making glory.

 

TEAMS

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Morne Steyn, Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Adam Beard, Sam Simmonds, Conor Murray, Finn Russell, Elliot Daly.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Since 1962-1968, the past five series between the Lions and the Springboks have seen the winner alternate, with the hosts winning the most recent series in 2009.

- The Lions gained just 105 metres from 85 carries against South Africa in the second Test, their average gain of 1.24 metres per carry the lowest by a tier-one side in a Test match since Opta began recording such data in 2010.

- Both matches in this series have been won by the side trailing at the break; the Lions defeated the Springboks in the opener after outscoring them 19-5 in the second half, while in the second Test South Africa scored 21 unanswered points in the second 40 minutes.

- The Lions have lost just two series after winning the first Test (W10, D1) – against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001 – with the tourists winning four and drawing one of their five such series against South Africa. 

- Alun Wyn Jones is set to win his 12th Lions Test cap, joining Mike Gibson and Graham Price as the joint-fourth most capped player in Lions history, behind only Willie John McBride (17) and Dickie Jeeps (13).

- Damian de Allende has made 25 carries during the series, six more than any other player, gaining the most metres (76), as well as the most post-contact metres (67).

Kyle Sinckler is free to play in the British and Irish Lions' deciding third Test against South Africa on Saturday after a citing for alleged biting against the prop was dismissed.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has made six changes to the side that lost 27-9 in last weekend's encounter in Cape Town.

Hooker Ken Owens, prop Wyn Jones, scrum-half Ali Price, centre Bundee Aki, wing Josh Adams and full-back Liam Williams all come into the XV.

Wales duo Adams and Williams are likely to have an important role in the back three under the Springboks' kicking game that dismantled the Lions after half-time last time out.

Tight-head prop Sinckler will take his place on the bench alongside fly-half Finn Russell, lock Adam Beard and number eight Sam Simmonds – the three of whom are in Test squad for the first time in the series.

Gatland has axed Owen Farrell Taulupe Faletau, Anthony Watson, Stuart Hogg, Rory Sutherland, Tadhg Beirne and Chris Harris from his 23.

"The matchday 23 have an incredibly special opportunity in front of them - to seal a Lions series victory in South Africa," said the veteran coach.

"It doesn't get much bigger than this and we're excited by the challenge that faces us on Saturday.

"We've no excuses from last week - the Springboks put us under pressure in the second half and deserved the win. We have to be much better than that second-half performance, and I believe we will be."

Sinckler denied allegations that he bit Franco Mostert and World Rugby were unable to find sufficient evidence to punish the England forward, who was facing a minimum 12-week ban.

A statement from the governing body read: "Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee deemed that on the balance of probabilities, it could not be satisfied that the player committed an act of foul play.

"On that basis, the committee dismissed the citing and the player is free to play again immediately."

South Africa are without world player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit and influential scrum-half Faf de Klerk through injury.

Cobus Reinach comes in for De Klerk while Franco Mostert's switch to blindside flanker means Lood de Jager will partner Eben Etzebeth in the second row.

Veteran fly-half Morne Steyn, whose long-range penalty secured a series triumph for the Springboks over the Lions in 2009, is named on the bench.

 

British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Adam Beard, Sam Simmonds, Conor Murray, Finn Russell, Elliot Daly

 

South Africa : Wille le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Morne Steyn, Damian Willemse

South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is to face a misconduct hearing after publicly criticising the match officials following their first Test defeat to the British and Irish Lions.

Erasmus accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play in their 22-17 win last month and hit out at the standard of refereeing from Nic Berry.

The 48-year-old made the claims in a 62-minute clip posted on social media as he highlighted what he felt were a number of calls that went against South Africa.

He also retweeted clips from an anonymous Twitter user, alleged to be one of his own accounts, highlighting "questionable calls" made by the tourists.

World Rugby has now cited Erasmus for his comments and he, along with South African Rugby, will face a judicial hearing.

"Match officials are the backbone of the sport, and without them there is no game," a statement from the rugby governing body read on Monday.

"World Rugby condemns any public criticism of their selection, performance or integrity which undermines their role, the well established and trust-based coach-officials feedback process, and more importantly, the values that are at the heart of the sport.

"Having conducted a full review of all the available information, World Rugby is concerned that individuals from both teams have commented on the selection and/or performance of match officials.

"However, the extensive and direct nature of the comments made by Rassie Erasmus within a video address, in particular, meets the threshold to be considered a breach of World Rugby regulation 18 (misconduct and code of conduct) and will now be considered by an independent disciplinary panel.

"World Rugby has reminded the management of both teams of the importance of this area and their obligations regarding the values of the sport."

In response, SA Rugby posted a brief statement on Twitter, which read: "SA Rugby has noted the charges brought by World Rugby and will respond through the designated channels. There will be no further comment from SA Rugby until the process is complete."

South Africa defeated the Lions 27-9 in a fiery encounter at the weekend to level the three-match series at 1-1 and set up a decider in Cape Town on Saturday.

Erasmus, who has doubled up as a water carrier, may still be present for that showdown as a hearing date has not yet been set by World Rugby.

Kyle Sinckler could miss the British and Irish Lions' deciding Test against South Africa after being cited for an alleged bite on Franco Mostert.

The incident occurred during the 64th minute of an ill-tempered second Test in Cape Town, a game the hosts won 27-9 to level the series at one apiece.

England prop Sinckler has come off the bench in both Tests so far but would face a minimum ban of 12 weeks if found guilty.

The 28-year-old will attend a World Rugby hearing via video conference on Tuesday.

In a statement, World Rugby added there were no additional citings from the match after Lions full-back Stuart Hogg denied allegations that he had bitten Springbok counterpart Willie le Roux.

"I would never bite an opponent and I am annoyed and upset by this unsubstantiated accusation. I've always been proud of playing rugby in the spirit of the game," Scotland international Hogg said in a statement issued by the Lions.

The third and final Test between the teams takes place at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. 

British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg has denied biting South Africa's Willie Le Roux and says he is "annoyed and upset" by the allegations.

Footage emerged on Saturday of Hogg clashing with opposite number Le Roux during the Lions' contentious 27-9 loss to the world champions in Cape Town.

The coming together occurred following Cheslin Kolbe's tackle in the air on Conor Murray, with Hogg pressing his face against Le Roux's arm in the scuffle that ensued before being pushed away.

That was one of a number of heated incidents in the ill-tempered contest, which saw South Africa level the three-match series at 1-1 to set up a decider next week.

Citing commissioner Scott Nowland has yet to rule on the clash between Hogg and Le Roux, but the Scotland captain has denied any wrongdoing.

"Following speculation that has surfaced online, I would like to categorically deny any foul play in last night's game," Hogg said in a statement issued by the Lions on Sunday.

"I would never bite an opponent and I am annoyed and upset by this unsubstantiated accusation. I've always been proud of playing rugby in the spirit of the game.

"Respect to the Springboks for their deserved win. The squad is hurting after last night's defeat, but it's all to play for next week. 

"It's going to be a cup final and everyone's going to be up for it."

Warren Gatland says the British and Irish Lions can have no excuses following their 27-9 defeat by South Africa in the second Test.

The Springboks levelled the series in Cape Town as they inflicted the Lions’ heaviest loss since going down 38-19 against New Zealand in 2005.

All was going well for Gatland’s side, who led 9-6 at half-time thanks to three penalties from Dan Biggar.

However, they were very much on the back foot after the break; failing to score a second-half point for the first time in a Test series since 1983.

Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am went over as the world champions took full control, while the boot of Handre Pollard put the icing on the cake.

And Gatland admitted his side struggled to maintain their momentum following a positive first half.

Siya Kolisi was relieved to reach the end of "the toughest week I've ever had to face" as South Africa beat the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.

Tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am and 17 points from Handre Pollard settled the second Test 27-9 in the Springboks' favour, setting up a decider.

Focus returned to the pitch after a week in which Rassie Erasmus and Kolisi had been open in criticism of first Test referee Nic Berry.

The South Africa captain had said he felt "disrespected" by the manner of communication with the official.

Ben O'Keeffe, who showed two yellow cards and awarded Am's try in slightly contentious circumstances, was more popular with Kolisi.

"Today was better," he told Sky Sports. "I've worked with Ben before and it was great working with him."

Reflecting on the build-up to the match in Cape Town, Kolisi said: "It's been a week and a half. Honestly, for me, personally, as a leader, it was the toughest week I've ever had to face, with everything happening.

"But fortunately the coaches around made sure we focused on the things that we could fix.

"We know we made a lot of mistakes out there last week – especially in the maul and everything. We put all the focus on the game and what we could fix.

"And having our families, to be honest, was one of the things that helped me a lot. Have a tough day at training and you come home and the wives are waiting and the kids are waiting, that's been really special."

Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones – winning his 11th Lions cap, the outright fifth-most – was offered the opportunity to attribute a disappointing performance to the war of words between the sides.

But Jones made no excuses after his side's biggest defeat since the third Test against New Zealand in 2005.

The second half was especially disappointing, as the Lions were held scoreless for the first time since a 9-0 defeat to the All Blacks in 1983.

"Look, our focus was on what happens on the field – and it still is," Jones said. "We'll obviously go back and review where we can go right. That's our focus.

"Straight after the game, it's disappointing. We didn't want to take it to a third Test, but we have. We're fortunate we've got another opportunity next week."

It is at least familiar ground for the Lions, who have been taken to a decider in each of coach Warren Gatland's three series, but the Springboks now have some momentum.

Kolisi added: "It's game on. We're going to go again, nothing different, and we're going to try to do what we did today even harder."

South Africa outclassed the British and Irish Lions 27-9 in an ill-tempered second Test to level the series in Cape Town and set up a decider.

The world champions had come up just short in a controversial opening loss but controlled proceedings on Saturday after another scrappy start.

Indeed, at the end of a week dominated by Rassie Erasmus' criticism of the officiating, referee Ben O'Keeffe took centre stage in the second try-less first half of the series.

But a pair of incisive kicks from Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk then teed up scores for Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am to deal the Lions their first defeat in four Tests.

The nature of Am's try could be considered contentious, however, and it might be Warren Gatland's turn to take issue with an under-the-spotlight official whose early warnings scarcely checked a frantic encounter.

Penalties provided the best opportunities for points, with Pollard opening the scoring after three minutes and Dan Biggar twice responding with his boot.

Pollard pulled a second effort wide to the left and the Springboks were dealt a blow as Pieter-Steph du Toit departed with an apparent shoulder injury before tempers flared.

Duhan van der Merwe made for the sin bin when his attempted kick instead caught Cheslin Kolbe, who soon followed his opponent for tackling Conor Murray in the air. A subsequent melee went unpunished.

Pollard found his range again, only for Biggar to keep the Lions three points ahead at half-time – albeit after the tourists passed up an opening when Robbie Henshaw could not ground the ball beyond the try line.

The quality that had been missing was immediately evident in the second period, however, as Pollard's kick picked out Mapimpi to thunder over on the left.

Pollard missed the conversion, which would have allowed Biggar to kick the Lions back in front had his fourth penalty not bounced away off the post.

Gatland's men struggled to put the Springboks under any extended pressure and they were instead forced back, with De Klerk picking out Am, who appeared to control the ball with his forearm, rather than his palm.

Pollard found the target this time and another kick made absolutely sure. As a one-sided second half concluded in Lions territory, there was time for him to add one more, too, finishing with 17 points.

MAPIMPI MAKES HIS MARK

Kolbe's ineffective first Test display was a talking point, with the highly talented wing restricted to three carries and failing to beat a defender. He improved only marginally to four carries on Saturday and struggled to impact the game beyond his yellow card.

Fortunately for the Springboks, their other wing stepped up. Mapimpi's try provided a belated moment of real class. He beat two defenders but also got involved in the action in a defensive sense, making five tackles and winning two turnovers.

CONTENTED COACH?

Just enough decisions went South Africa's way to ensure a war of words around the standard of refereeing is unlikely to subside. Erasmus will now be the happier of the two coaches.

O'Keeffe was a little lenient with both sides in the first half and then found in favour of the Springboks when Am looked to lose control of the ball. However, the final penalty count – 15-10 in the hosts' favour – was more due to their dominance than any officiating calls.

South Africa must take their frustration over officiating out on the British and Irish Lions when then they attempt to keep the series alive on Saturday.

The Lions roared back in the second half of an attritional first Test at Cape Town Stadium last weekend to take a 1-0 lead with a 22-17 victory.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has had a busy week since the world champions' seven-match winning run came to an end.

Erasmus accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play and used social media to highlight "questionable calls" from the officials during an absorbing contest.

The 48-year-old fanned the flames further on Thursday, offering to "step away" in an hour-long video in which he stated the Springboks should be given an "equal chance" by officials in the remainder of series.

It was the turn of assistant coach Mzwandile Stick to have his say on Friday, accusing the Lions of “destroying the dignity of the series" by starting the war of words prior to the first Test.

Siya Kolisi then backed up Erasmus' claim that the Springboks captain felt disrespected by referee Nic Berry, who might be glad it will be New Zealander Ben O'Keeffe on duty this weekend.

The Lions have taken a different approach as they look to stretch their run of series without defeat to three for the first time since 1959, giving their backing to O'Keeffe.

Full-back Stuart Hogg said: "In the short time I've been Scotland captain Ben O'Keeffe has been one of the best referees I've had to deal with.

"He almost coaches you round the field at the same time. When we ask questions he's very calm in his answers and is good at communicating.

"That's a reason why a large majority of his games when he's involved are allowed to flow, you're allowed to get on with it, and he helped me massively in the couple of games we've had him when I've been leading the side.

"Everyone is entitled to the opinion of referees, but they have a huge amount of respect from us as players. I'd hate to do the job if I'm honest!

"But Ben O'Keeffe has been one of the best referees I've had the opportunity to deal with as captain."

South Africa have handed number eight Jasper Wiese his first Test start as one of three changes, with prop Steven Kitshoff steps in to win his 50th cap alongside the returning Frans Malherbe.

Prop Mako Vunipola, scrum-half Conor Murray and centre Chris Harris come into the Lions team.

 

 

KOLISI: TIME TO STAND UP

While the hurting Springboks were quick to point the finger at the officials, skipper Kolisi knows they must improve after squandering a lead in the first Test.

"Of course, we feel a lot of pressure, but we must focus on what we can control and fix the mistakes we made," said Kolisi.

"We responded well this week and trained well, and we are looking forward to the match. We know we have to stand up in times like these."

He added: "There are some similarities to losing against New Zealand in our opening game in the World Cup, but this is different because this tournament is only played every 12 years, while the World Cup is played every four years, so we may not have another opportunity.

"We have to turn it up and we are looking forward to the match."

 

LIONS PREPARED FOR BOKS BACKLASH

Robin McBryde has been looking back as well as forward as the Lions prepare for another almighty battle, reading up on the 1974 tour of South Africa.

The Lions secured a 3-0 whitewash 47 years ago, but they did not go down without a huge fight and forwards coach McBryde knows it will be no different this time around. 

"They will go back to their physical nature. It’s what they did in 1974 after losing that first Test," he said.

"There's a term they have which means climbing in, to get stuck in. I'm sure that’s what they'll be looking to do on Saturday – to get stuck into us.

"They're a very proud nation who will be looking to come out with all guns blazing."

 

South Africa : Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements : Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions : Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements : Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Taulupe Faletau, Ali Price, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The Lions have lost just two of their previous 13 games in Cape Town (W10, D1), a run that stretches back to the beginning of the 1974 tour.
- South Africa conceded 14 penalties against the Lions in the first Test, including nine inside their own half of the pitch; both tallies were their most in a Test since June 2018 against England.
- The Lions are unbeaten in their three Tests (W2, D1), their best run since a six game spell spanning the 1971 and 1974 tours (W4, D2).
- The tourists have lost just two series after winning the first Test (W10, D1) – against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001. They won four and drew one of their five such series against South Africa.

South Africa assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has accused the British and Irish Lions of "destroying the dignity of the series" ahead of the second Test on Saturday.

The Springboks are aiming to bounce back in Cape Town following last weekend's controversial 22-17 defeat in the series opener.

The performance of referee Nic Berry came under scrutiny from the hosts, with director of rugby Rassie Erasmus embarking on a lengthy rant on social media criticising the official.

Backing Erasmus, Stick has intensified the pressure ahead of the second Test.

The assistant coach has suggested Warren Gatland's Lions challenged the integrity of the governing body in the lead-up to the opening Test by questioning the appointment of South African Marius Jonker as TMO.

"Let's go on the build-up where firstly, the integrity of World Rugby was challenged by another human being when Marius was appointed TMO," Stick said.

"And then Gatland on the other side went crazy, and was asking World Rugby and challenging them about the decision they had made.

"We're not asking for any favours, we just want equal grounds.

"I wouldn't like the whole series to be about decisions taken by the officials, or about the coaches off the field.

"Even if things are being said in social media or a traditional media conference, it's still the media. All coaches want to get their messages across.

"He (Erasmus) wanted to state his as his own personal view; it had nothing to do with us as a team.

"So if Rassie got into trouble because of what he said on social media, I think the gentleman that challenged the integrity of the game when the TMO was challenged, I think that is something that really destroyed the dignity of the series and also challenges the integrity of World Rugby."

Rassie Erasmus has offered to "step away" from his role with South Africa for the remainder of the series against the British and Irish Lions in an extraordinary hour-long video.

Erasmus had accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play via social media earlier this week following the 22-17 victory for Warren Gatland's side in the first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

He had also been active on social media 24 hours after Saturday's game, retweeting clips from a user highlighting "questionable calls" made during proceedings.

South Africa's director of rugby has now taken aim again at the officials ahead of the second Test, stating that the Springboks should have an "equal chance" in the remainder of the series as he revealed his readiness to move aside.

Erasmus said: "I have previous encounters where I've made mistakes, saying things in public about referees and that normally comes back to bite you.

"But in this instance, the Lions only comes around every 12 years. I think it should be fair that I'll step away from these last two Test matches, but let the Springboks and the Lions have an equal chance on the field when it comes to laws, respect and the way that players get treated."

He added: "If you think this is going over the top and it shouldn't go out to the media, then I did this in my personal capacity, not as part of the Springboks and I'll withdraw myself from the Springbok management team."

Erasmus felt that South Africa captain Siya Kolisi was not treated with the same level of respect as Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones in the opening Test.

He said: "When Siya spoke to the referee and when Alun Wyn spoke to the referee, I felt the reactions on how they treated both those players… there was a vast difference between who was taken seriously and who wasn't.

"It's comical, the way the respect the assistant referees and the refs is different between the Lions and South Africa. There was a vast difference between who he was taking serious and who he wasn't taking serious."

Erasmus acted as water carrier in the first Test but reiterated he is prepared to move out of the limelight.

"If this causes that I'm not allowed to be water carrier that's fine, I'll step away," he said. "If we're going to get a fine, I'll step away from the management team.

"If this means the Springboks will get in trouble, I'll say I did this personally, because I believe in fairness, the system and two teams having an equal chance of competing in a match.

"I'm not saying the referee was a cheat at all, saying we just wanted clarity on a Sunday night, which we now have on a Tuesday, which I personally am not very convinced with the clarity we had from (referee) Nic Berry."

Erasmus was also eager to point out that Gatland had questioned why Faf de Klerk had not been sent off in the Lions' defeat to South Africa A earlier in the tour, while he also took issue at the decision to appoint Marius Jonker as TMO in the first Test, a move made after original selection Brendon Pickerill was ruled out due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think where things for us got cluttered and frustrating was when the Lions started moaning about officiating on the field, where for example Faf got a yellow card in the South Africa A game," Erasmus said.

"The Lions criticised that and said they wanted clarity from World Rugby where it should have been a red card and was it not direct head contact. We had in the same game lots of clips of the Lions making mistakes, just like us. Warren openly said it should have been a red card.

"Obviously then he talks to the media and according to me is that you don't talk to the media, you talk to World Rugby. Again, it is a bit of a grey area. If you wanted to go in such depth about Faf's.

"We just put two on social media. We saw it as banter. Before a big Test match, they put some pressure, we put some pressure on.

"Where we got a bit worried was this narrative that we are this dirty team and all the chat was that the South Africans want to play physical and that’s why they highlighted the Faf thing.

"When the TMO was drawn and Marius Jonker was appointed, the Lions made such a fuss of it. We don't want this negativity in South Africa."

South Africa have handed Jasper Wiese his first Test start and made three changes to their team to face the British and Irish Lions.

The second Test takes place in Cape Town on Saturday after the Lions came from behind to win the opener 22-17.

Hosts South Africa have brought in Wiese at number eight, while there are two changes to the front row as prop Steven Kitshoff steps in to win his 50th cap alongside the returning Frans Malherbe.

Kitshoff comes in for the injured Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane drops to the bench to make space for Malherbe.

Leicester Tigers star Wiese was not even on the bench for first Test but he will come straight into the XV to replace Kwagga Smith.

Wiese has only previously made one substitute appearance at senior international level, which came in a warm-up match against Georgia this month.

Flanker Siya Kolisi will again captain the Springboks, whose coach Jacques Nienaber knows the stakes could not be higher.

"This is a massive game for us; it is do or die in order to stay in the race to win the series," Nienaber said as he discussed his team.

"We selected a team that offers continuity in selection, but also that we thought would be the best suited to achieve the objectives we have set for this match.

"Ox did well in the scrums last week and has been ruled out due to injury, but fortunately we have a world-class player in Steven who can step into the starting team. 

"The fact that this will mark his 50th Test will make this occasion even more important for him.

"We disappointed ourselves last week, and we all know how important it is to bounce back with a strong performance and show our fighting spirit and pride as a team and nation."

Six of the eight Springboks replacements are forwards, with Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse the only backs on the bench.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Lions also announced three changes to their starting XV.

Warren Gatland picked Mako Vunipola, with Conor Murray and Chris Harris also coming into the team to face the world champions.

In the 13 series in British and Irish Lions history when the tourists have won the first Test, they have gone on to win 10, draw one and lose just twice.

It has happened in five such series against South Africa, leading to four wins and one draw.

Following their first Test win, the Lions are unbeaten in their last three Tests, their best run since a six-game spell spanning the 1971 and 1974 tours.


South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

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