Warren Gatland has selected Mako Vunipola to start for the British and Irish Lions in the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Head coach Gatland makes three changes to the side that beat the Springboks 22-17 last weekend, with Conor Murray and Chris Harris also coming into the starting XV to face the world champions on Saturday.

Vunipola replaces Rory Sutherland as he joins Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tadhg Furlong in the front row, while captain Alun Wyn Jones wins his 11th successive Lions Test cap as he partners Maro Itoje in an unchanged back row.

Murray comes in for Ali Price at scrum-half to partner Dan Biggar, while Harris is preferred to Elliot Daly to play alongside Robbie Henshaw in the centres.

The back three of Anthony Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg is unchanged, while Taulupe Faletau joins Sutherland, Price and Daly on the bench.

The Lions have only lost two series after winning the first Test, with the most recent occasion coming against Australia in 2001.

"As always, selection was incredibly tough," Gatland said. "However, we've made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend's game.

"We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.

"It's the biggest game on the Tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. 

"We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a series win."


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.

The problems that led to South Africa's second-half collapse in Saturday's 22-17 defeat to the British and Irish Lions are "fixable", according to head coach Jacques Nienaber. 

Four penalties from Handre Pollard put the Springboks 12-3 ahead at half-time, but Warren Gatland's side roared back in the second period at the Cape Town Stadium. 

A Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions' lead after Luke Cowan-Dickie had crashed over, yet Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties, before Owen Farrell put the Lions five points up late on.

While Nienaber was pleased with his side's first-half display, he acknowledged the Lions were good value for the win based on their improved showing after the interval. 

Pollard missed both of his kicks in the second half – one penalty, one conversion – while the Lions, having missed a pair of penalties just before the break, were flawless with the boot following the restart to win a Test having trailed at half-time for the first time since 1989.

"The kicking game was won by us in the first half and we got the rewards, but the second half was a different story," Nienaber said, with South Africa's seven-game winning run – their best in Tests since 2014 – ended.

"They won that battle and it gave them territory, advantage in broken field play and we had to scramble, and we could not cope."

Despite their poor second-half performance, Nienaber is confident it will be just a case of minor tweaks ahead of the second Test next Saturday.

"We were nine points up, so things were working for us," he added. "We were playing in the right areas.

"Our half-time talk was to step up at the breakdown and then our discipline fell away. We started to make mistakes, especially at maul time. We did not make the step-up needed when required.

"We can certainly salvage this. A proper review is needed, but we can sort it out, no doubt. It worked in the first half and I believe what happened in the second half is fixable."

Captain Siya Kolisi was in agreement with his coach, highlighting the Springboks' failure to dominate the maul as a key reason behind the defeat. The Lions won 10 mauls to the Springboks' three.

"We did not get the maul going and we need to look at that," he said.

"They won the crucial balls in the air and the scraps that came from that. Well done to them. We are back at work tomorrow and will start fixing what we need to."

Warren Gatland knows South Africa will be "hurt" by their defeat to the British and Irish Lions in the first Test and expects the world champions to bounce back stronger.

The Lions roared back in the second half of a brutal contest at Cape Town Stadium to win 22-17 after going in at the break trailing 12-3.

Luke Cowan-Dickie crashed over just after the interval before Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points and Owen Farrell added a late penalty.

Faf de Klerk scored a somewhat contentious try soon after Cowan-Dickie touched down, while South Africa felt a Willie le Roux try - which was ruled out for offside - should have been allowed to stand.

Damian de Allende also had a second-half score chalked off a knock-on, while Handre Pollard - who booted 12 points - missed a conversion attempt and a penalty as the Springboks' seven-match winning run came to an end.

Lions head coach Gatland told Sky Sports: "They will be hurt from this because they are an incredibly proud nation and world champions.

"The message to the players, it wasn't just about the 23. This is an incredibly tight group of players and the non-23 did a good job this week of helping prepare. The victory was about the whole squad."

He added: "A bounce of the ball could have gone either way, and a couple of calls as well.

"If they had been different it might have affected the result. We are happy with how we defended and we don't think they created a lot of attacking opportunities.

"Winning the game means, whatever happens, the series will go to the last weekend which keeps everyone engaged."

South Africa's preparation for the three-match series has been badly affected by coronavirus cases in the camp and this was only their second Test since winning the 2019 World Cup.

New Zealander Gatland thinks they will be a different proposition next Saturday.

"They have had their own challenges with players not taking a full part in training," he said.

"A little like us, with two games a week it is quite hard to prepare for an international. I expect that they will be a lot stronger in the next two matches."

Maro Itoje hailed the British and Irish Lions' "mental fortitude" as they came from behind to seal a superb 22-17 first Test win over South Africa on Saturday. 

Four penalties from Handre Pollard put the Springboks 12-3 ahead at half-time, but Warren Gatland's side roared back in the second period at the Cape Town Stadium. 

A Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions' lead after Luke Cowan-Dickie had crashed over, yet Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties, before Owen Farrell put the Lions five points up late on.

Man of the match Itoje was in supreme form for the visitors, missing only one of 10 tackles and making three turnovers.

"These moments don't come very often in your career and you've got to take advantage," he told Sky Sports. 

"It's a massive privilege to wear this jersey and represent the Lions. To come out here and win as well is really special

"Second half was a great comeback but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to come out here and win this series so we have to go out and do the business next week.

"Fingers crossed after that we can go out and be a bit more light-hearted.

"We had to tidy up our discipline. We were making silly mistakes and giving away silly penalties.

"We tidied up our discipline in the second half and luckily we had the mental fortitude to see it through."

Gatland was full of praise for the performance of Saracens and England man Itoje.

He added: "Maro was immense and both he and Courtney Lawes had outstanding games.

"Then we had some decisions to make about bringing players on and we got those right, but certainly those two were very good."

The second Test takes place next Saturday in Cape Town.

The British and Irish Lions roared back in the second half to beat South Africa 22-17 in a gripping first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

Four penalties from Handre Pollard, playing his 50th Test, gave the Springboks a 12-3 half-time advantage as the struggling Lions were made to pay for indiscipline.

Luke Cowan-Dickie crashed over early in the second half, but a somewhat contentious Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions’ lead.

Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties to put Warren Gatland’s side in front for the first time with 18 minutes to play and Owen Farrell put them five points up late on.

The Springboks had two second-half tries ruled out and they could not provide a late twist, with Pollard missing a penalty and conversion attempt.

The tackles flew in and high kicks galore were sent up in a frantic start and the Springboks struck a psychological blow when they had the better of the first scrum.

Pollard put the world champions in front with a 13th-minute penalty and he doubled their advantage to punish Tom Curry for a late hit on livewire fly-half Faf de Klerk.

Biggar got the Lions on the board soon after with a great strike from long range midway through a breathless first half, but another two clean strikes from the tee from Pollard made Gatland's side pay for yet more indiscipline with relentless South Africa winning the battle.

The Lions struggled at the lineout and Biggar pulled a penalty wide, while Elliot Daly was just short with a shot at goal from inside his own half before Willie le Roux kept his side nine points in front late in the first half with a great tackle on a charging Robbie Henshaw.

South Africa came out after the break with a new front row and they were pushed back by an unstoppable driving maul only three minutes into the second half, with Cowan-Dickie touching down and Biggar adding the extras.

Le Roux had a try ruled out for offside moments later, but TMO Marius Jonker was in the spotlight again when he saw no issue with a score awarded to De Klerk, which the Lions thought should have been overturned for a Pieter-Steph du Toit knock-on.

Biggar's penalty made it a one-point game and the fly-half put the Lions in front with another clean strike from the tee.

Pollard had failed to convert De Klerk’s try and he missed a penalty after Hamish Watson was fortunate to escape without a card for a tackle on Le Roux.

There was further drama when Damian de Allende’s try was chalked off for offside with eight minutes to go and the Lions clung on to take a series lead following a late Farrell penalty.

Rory Sutherland has been promoted to the British and Irish Lions starting line-up to face South Africa in the first Test after Wyn Jones was ruled out with a minor shoulder injury.

Scotland prop Sutherland was given a late call to come into the side for Saturday's showdown at Cape Town Stadium in the absence of Jones, who is expected to return to training next week.

England front-rower Mako Vunipola replaces Sutherland on the bench.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland said: "It's really bad luck for Wyn and we all feel for him missing out on tonight's game.

"However, we're confident he'll be back in training next week and have no plans to bring in anyone else at this stage."

 

British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams.

Siya Kolisi hopes South Africa's rugby team can lift the spirits of a nation as they prepare to take on the British and Irish Lions in front of an empty Cape Town Stadium.

The first Test of the three-match series takes place on Saturday, though no fans will be at the venue to watch the action unfold due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa has seen an upsurge in COVID-19 cases during the past month - there were over 14,000 positive tests in the country on Thursday - while there have been 69,075 deaths connected to the virus amid the ongoing global health crisis.

Springboks captain Kolisi tested positive himself earlier this month, though the World Cup winner has been cleared to lead a team that understands the importance of the upcoming games.

"Obviously, we are South Africans before we are Springbok rugby players. What affects our people affects us as players," Kolisi told the media on the eve of the opening Test.

"We are going to do everything we can to focus on the job we have to do. Like coach Rassie Erasmus said at the World Cup, what we do is in a place of privilege.

"We're doing what we love every single day, and that we're able to put a smile on someone's face, or we're able to, for a moment in time, let everybody else forget and put their problems aside and focus on what we're doing. When we win, they feel like they win too.

"No matter how difficult the situation is, we are always able to pull together. We've got families, we've got friends, we've got people out there suffering during this time. We want to make sure that, while we still have the privilege to be able to do what we love, we give it our ultimate best.

"We know the people will be behind us, no matter what it is they are going through. We want to make sure we give it everything and give it our best on Saturday.

"If we are able to put a smile on someone's face, that will obviously make us happy and drive us even more to make sure that we don't give up and give our ultimate everything."

Cape Town will now stage all the Tests, a change from the original schedule as Johannesburg was due to host the second and third matches.

The Springboks also saw their series with Georgia cut short due to COVID-19 cases in both camps, meaning Kolisi has not played since July 2. However, despite the lengthy absence from the field, the 30-year-old remained heavily involved in the build-up.

"Honestly, I didn't have a lot of symptoms. I was fortunate with that. I didn't have anything at all," he said. "I think I was fine by the second day. That didn't play a big role with me. It was all the mental things, isolating in the room.

"What helped me the most is that I was still part of the meetings, talking to the team, viewing videos, adding input to the guys who were playing before, talking to Marco (van Staden, who started at flanker in Kolisi's absence for South Africa A against the Lions), making sure that Marco knows every single role before Saturday, because that's what we're about.

"Just because you're not playing with us, it doesn't mean you're off. The next thing for you to do is to make sure the next guy around you knows his job and he's prepared as much as he can. At the end of the day, the most important thing in our group is the Springboks.

"We want to make sure, whether you're playing or not, that you're actually adding value some way or another. In that regard, I was fine because I had a lot of things to keep me positive and keep me active during the time."

After months of uncertainty over whether the tour will go ahead, the British and Irish Lions start their quest to secure a series win over South Africa on Saturday.

The two sides will go into battle at Cape Town Stadium without the roars of partisan Springboks fans and passionate Lions supporters who have made the trip, as no spectators are allowed in due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, neither team should require a raucous atmosphere to get fired up for a first contest between South Africa and the Lions in 12 years.

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has selected 21 of the 23 players who were World Cup winners in Japan two years ago in the matchday squad for such an eagerly awaited opening showdown. The world champions' preparation has been far from ideal, with 14 players and six members of the management team having tested positive for COVID-19 this month.

Captain Siya Kolisi was among those to have contracted the virus, but he will lead a formidable side that will be so tough to beat on home turf.

As for the Lions, Alun Wyn Jones has made an astonishing recovery to captain the tourists only four weeks after suffering a dislocated shoulder against Japan.

South Africa can win consecutive series against the Lions for the first time since they were successful in both 1962 and 1968, having come out on top by a 2-1 scoreline in 2009.

Yet the Lions have been racking up the points in their tour matches ahead of the three Tests, scoring 39 tries in six games in 2021 - which is 21 more than they managed in the entire 2017 trip to New Zealand.

Warren Gatland's men were beaten 17-13 by a strong South Africa A team during the warm-up fixtures, though, getting a taste of the sort of power they know they will come up against when facing the Boks.

 

TMO CHANGE STOKES THE FIRES

There is never a shortage of off-field sub-plots to fan the flames ahead of a Lions series - and this trip has been no different.

Lions head coach Gatland is said to be fuming over a chance of TMO for the first Test, with South African Marius Jonker replacing New Zealander Brendon Pickerill, who was unable to officiate due to coronavirus-related travel issues.

Robin McBryde, forwards coach for the Lions, said: "It [Jonker stepping in] was a bit unexpected. We only found out on Wednesday. There's a slight like lack of foresight because there's a reason why that position is neutral. There's no plan B put in place. You've just got to get on with it really."

Jonker was the TMO in a clash with South Africa A that saw Faf de Klerk avoid a red card for a high tackle on Josh Navidi.

VAN DER MERWE READY TO BE TARGETED

Duhan van der Merwe gets the nod to start against his country of birth, with the Scotland wing accepting he will be targeted.

Gatland said: "It's a challenge for him. I've spoken to him about what's coming on the weekend and he's fully aware.

"I presume every time he touches the ball, they'll be trying to hit him with everything they've got and there will probably be some verbals as well. So he's well aware of what's at stake and he's been incredibly relaxed."

 

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alan Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the 14th Test series between South Africa and the Lions, with the Springboks winning eight of the previous 13 editions and the Lions triumphant in four.
- South Africa hold the head-to-head advantage in individual Test matches between the sides, winning 23 of their 46 previous Test encounters (L17, D6).
- The Lions are unbeaten in their past two Tests (W1, D1) and have not enjoyed a longer such run since a six-game run spanning the 1971 and 1974 tours (W4, D2).
- South Africa have lost just one of their previous 13 Tests (W11, D1), winning the last seven in a row – their longest winning run since 2013-14 (W8)
- Lions captain Jones will win his 10th Lions Test cap, becoming the eighth player to achieve that feat and the first this century.

Alun Wyn Jones has been deemed fit enough to skipper the British and Irish Lions against South Africa as Warren Gatland predicted an "arm wrestle" in the first Test after naming his XV for the match.

Jones has recovered from the dislocated shoulder he sustained in the tourists 28-10 win over Japan at Murrayfield last month.

The Welsh lock will win his 10th successive Test cap in Cape Town on Saturday and joins an illustrious list of Lions players to have achieved the feat.

Gareth Edwards (10), Graham Price (12), Mike Gibson (12) Dickie Jeeps (13) and Willie-John McBride (17) have all reached the milestone, although Jones is the first in the professional era.

Lions head coach Gatland warned Jones and his team-mates to be ready for a gruelling tussle against the Springboks, the current World Cup holders.

 

"We know what we're coming up against on Saturday. It’s going to be an arm wrestle, there’s no doubt about it," he told the British and Irish Lions website.

"We'll need to front up physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played South Africa A last week we probably took a bit too long to get into the game, something we can't afford to do that again this weekend.

"We need to make sure we play in the right areas of the field, not give them easy territory and take our chances when they come."

Jones is joined in the second row by England's Maro Itoje while compatriot Luke Cowan-Dickie, Wales' Wyn Jones and Ireland's Tadhg Furlong make up the front row.

Courtney Lawes will play on the blind side flank on his first full Test appearance, having won his previous two caps from the bench against New Zealand in 2017.

Lawes' England team-mate Tom Curry has been named on the open side, with Irishman Jack Conan securing the number eight shirt.

Scotland's Ali Price is at scrum-half and has Wales number 10 Dan Biggar for company in the half-back berths while Robbie Henshaw has returned from a hamstring injury to partner Elliot Daly in midfield.

England's Anthony Watson wins his fourth Lions Test cap as he takes his spot on the wing opposite Duhan van der Merwe, with fellow Scot Stuart Hogg at full-back.

The starting XV includes three Scots for the first time since the 1997 Tour to South Africa.
 

 

"In my four tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in," Gatland added.

"We couldn't have asked for more from the players so far. They've all put their hands up and made picking a starting XV incredibly difficult.

"In truth, we would have been happy with any number of different combinations across the 23, however, we're very pleased with the side we've settled on."

 

British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams

All three British and Irish Lions Test matches against South Africa will be played in Cape Town after consultation with medical experts regarding coronavirus.

Initially the second and third Tests of the series were supposed to be played in Johannesburg, with only the first – scheduled for this Saturday – being hosted in Cape Town.

But due to "risks associated with the Delta variant of COVID-19", South Africa Rugby and the Lions reached an agreement to relocate the two matches.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said: "The data pointed in only one direction. The series has already been significantly disrupted by COVID-19 and a return to Gauteng at this time would only increase the risks.

"We now have two teams in bio-secure environments without any positive cases or anyone in isolation. To now return to the Highveld would expose the series to renewed risk.

"Everyone wants to see the two squads, at their strongest, play out an unforgettable series over the next three weekends and this decision gives us the best opportunity to see that happen."

Ben Calverley, Lions managing director, added: "We are fully supportive of this decision which we believe to be in the best interest of the Test series."

World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi will lead South Africa against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday after returning from 10 days in isolation following a COVID-19 positive test.

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber announced his team on Tuesday, and the 23-man group features 21 players who helped South Africa to their global triumph two years ago in Japan.

Handre Pollard, who will act as vice-captain, will earn his 50th cap as the three-Test series gets under way in Cape Town.

Ox Nche and Makazole Mapimpi, with Kolisi, were the last to join the camp in Cape Town on Monday but all have proved their fitness following the self-isolation period in Johannesburg.

Nienaber's men breezed past Georgia 40-9 in a warm-up Test two weeks ago but the scheduled second match was cancelled due to coronavirus outbreaks in both camps, meaning Saturday will be just the Springboks' second Test since the World Cup success.

The Springboks opt for changes on the wing, where Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe will start, and in the centres where Damian de Allende resumes his partnership with Lukhanyo Am.

South Africa make two further changes to their replacements, with Lood de Jager of Sale Sharks and Rynhardt Elstadt of Toulouse replacing Marvin Orie and Jasper Wiese.

Warren Gatland is expected to reveal his 23-man Lions selection on Wednesday as the tourists prepare for the highly anticipated series opener.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith. 

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

South Africa have confirmed Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni and Dan du Preez have been cleared to link up with the squad after completing their mandatory self-isolation period following positive COVID-19 tests results.

The trio were forced to sit out South Africa A's victory over the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday, as well as the shock 17-14 defeat to the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium.

With six days to go until the series opener against the Lions in Cape Town, all three players have been cleared to resume training with their team-mates.

South Africa had not played a Test match in 20 months prior to beating Georgia two weeks ago, and Kwagga Smith accepts there is a lot of work ahead for the reigning world champions.

"We haven't played Test matches in almost two years, so we got together and started working on it in the last three games and we can now analyse that," he told SA Rugby's official website.

"We need to use our opportunities because in Test matches there aren't many of them, so we have to convert them into points, and we have to sharpen up and get into our system and enforce it onto them."

The majority of the Boks' fringe players failed to impress in the defeat to Bulls, whereas the Lions flexed their muscles with a 49-3 win over the Stormers in their final warm-up match.

Cobus Reinach, one of the rare shining lights for South Africa on Saturday, agrees with Smith that a big improvement is needed if his side are to stop Warren Gatland's men.

"We left a lot of opportunities on the park, but that is something for us to look at, and each one of us has to look at our performance," he said.

"We can improve, and we have to ensure that we do better when we find ourselves in a similar situation. We are aligned as a squad and we know what we have to do.

"We need to execute what we want to do at a platinum standard, and everyone just needs to do their job and make sure they do it well.

"Collectively we didn’t put our stamp down, but we can fix that, and we are feeling confident going forward."

Australia overcame a controversial fourth-minute red card for Marika Koroibete as they beat France 33-30 in a thrilling contest to take the Test series 2-1.

Les Blues claimed their first away win over Australia for 31 years in Melbourne last week to level the series, but they fell short in Saturday's tense decider at Suncorp Stadium.

The Wallabies had to defy the odds after wing Koroibete was harshly dismissed early on for a high tackle on opposition skipper Anthony Jelonch. It was their first Test red card since Tevita Kuridrani was dismissed against Ireland in November 2013.

France initially took full advantage of the extra man as Baptiste Couilloud crossed from close range to add to Melvyn Jaminet's earlier penalty.

But Australia responded almost instantly when Tate McDermott went over unopposed and Noah Lolesio touched down soon after – those tries sandwiching another Jaminet penalty – to swing the game in the hosts' favour.

 

After Cameron Woki went over the top of the Wallabies' defence and slammed down for France's second try, Lolesio kicked his second penalty to level up the game at 20-20 midway through.

France then put themselves in a strong position to complete a series win when Pierre-Louis Barassi raced through early in the second half to round off a sensational move.

However, Australia hit back once again through Taniela Tupou, who evaded a few opposition players to cross the whitewash, before Lolesio and Jaminet exchanged penalties.

Australia had a try for Brandon Paenga-Amosa ruled out for a knock-on, but France's ill-discipline would cost them as they conceded another penalty that Lolesio made no mistake in converting two minutes from time to settle the series. 

New Zealand scored over 50 points in three successive Tests for just the second time in their history as the All Blacks ran out 60-13 winners over Fiji.

Richie Mo'unga and Sevu Reece were the stars of the show in Hamilton, the former racking up 13 points with the boot and assisting three tries – his most in a Test and just the second time he has made multiple assists in a single match – while the latter scored a hat-trick.

The All Blacks beat Tonga 102-0 before their 57-23 win over Fiji in Dunedin last week, and Reece had them ahead again in the 14th minute despite Ben Volavola's early penalty.

Reece had won each of the three previous Tests in which he had scored a try and there never looked any risk of New Zealand letting their grasp slip once he went over for his second in the 30th minute, with the wing completing his maiden hat-trick before half-time.

Ardie Savea and Will Jordan touched down either side of the interval as New Zealand clicked through the gears, though Peni Ravai did at least get a consolation try on the board for Fiji.

Rieko Ioane soon had the hosts' sixth score and Samisoni Taukei'aho helped himself to a double either side of Shannon Frizell's effort to round off the win for the All Blacks, who have won their past four Tests.

Next up for New Zealand is the Bledisloe Cup against Australia, with Auckland's Eden Park hosting the first match of the three-Test series.

Alun Wyn Jones is "monumental" for the British and Irish Lions, according to former South Africa wing Bryan Habana.

Jones, the most-capped player of all time with 157 international appearances across his career with Wales and the Lions, has made a remarkable comeback to return to the Lions' squad for their tour of South Africa.

The 35-year-old suffered a dislocated shoulder in a pre-tour match against Japan in Edinburgh and did not travel with Warren Gatland's squad and seemed unlikely to be able to feature in the three-match Test series against the Springboks.

Yet he has made a rapid recovery and will link up with the Lions ahead of Saturday's game with the Stormers.

Jones will be on the bench for that match, putting him firmly in contention for a start in the first Test against the reigning world champions on July 24.

Habana represented South Africa against the Lions in 2009, helping the Springboks to a series victory, and he believes Jones is not only an inspiration to Gatland's team, but to all athletes who aim to draw out their careers.

"It's monumental," Habana told Stats Perform. "All of under-40s, recently retired players, are sort of vicariously living through what he has become in terms of an iconic figure.

"It's astounding, mind-blowing, to think how far he's come over the course of the last 14-15 years since making his debut, that he's still able to produce efforts on a weekly basis that warrant not only his selection in the squad, but warrant his selection as captain of a prestigious side like the Lions.

 

"All of us around the world have an immense amount of respect for him. To go on and break Richie McCaw's Test cap record, but do it in a manner in which people still advocate for him being involved in the side, it tells you the status of the man.

 

"And I, having played the game, not remotely physically as close to what Alun has been doing in the forwards, just have a huge amount of respect for what he's achieved for the game, the manner in which he has played the game, but [also] the respect that he commands both from his own team-mates and from opposition."

The Lions perhaps missed Jones' leadership as they suffered their first defeat in eight matches on Wednesday.

A South Africa A side littered with 2019 World Cup winners won 17-13 in Cape Town, with the Lions losing for the first time in the city since 1980.

It was the lowest points tally the Lions have managed in a game since their 12-3 win over the Crusaders in the third match of their 2017 tour of New Zealand.


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