|South Africa: (6) 27|
|Tests: Mapimpi, Am With: Têtard Pens: Pollard 5|
|British and Irish Lions: (9) 9|
|Pens: Biggar 3|
The British and Irish Lions’ streak with South Africa will be decisive after the Springboks won a fiery second Test 27-9 at Cape Town Stadium.
The Lions led after a wary first half as Dan Biggar’s three penalties outweighed Handre Pollard’s two, while a player on either side went to sin-bin.
But an elegant try from Makazole Mapimpi gave the world champions a narrow two-point lead early in the second half.
The hosts continued to dominate and Lukhanyo Am’s score sealed the victory.
Pollard scored three more penalties to put the Lions back in their place after the Tourists won the first test 22-17.
Both teams will once again have to raise their level in what promises to be an exciting series decision on Saturday, August 7.
Referee O’Keeffe forced into the limelight
South African rugby director Rassie Erasmus took center stage during the week by posting an unprecedented hour-long video monologue criticize the work of referee Nic Berry in the Lions’ first victory.
The Erasmus issue also shone the spotlight on Ben O’Keeffe, who took charge of the second Test.
The New Zealander was put to the test by two emotionally charged teams, with 40 minutes of playing time in the first half taking 62 minutes due to stoppages needed for refereeing decisions.
Tensions boiled over after just two minutes as Alun Wyn Jones and Eben Etzebeth stared at each other and players from both sides clashed around them.
Pollard and Biggar traded shots on goal, before an unusual miss from South Africa 10 as the Lions led 6-3.
Then, the story became as much about the players leaving the field as those who were still there. The first world player of the year 2019, Pieter-Steph du Toit came out with a shoulder injury, replaced by the much less experienced Kwagga Smith.
The Lions received a bigger blow when Duhan Van der Merwe received a yellow card for moving to Cheslin Kolbe.
But Kolbe followed two minutes later after taking Conor Murray into the air – an action that prompted players on both sides to cram into another scum and a reprimand for the two O’Keeffe captains, who have promised more yellow cards if the behavior continued.
Pollard leveled things with an impressive 54m kick, before the Lions had a ruled try as Siya Kolisi held the ball when Robbie Henshaw attempted to land it after taking a lead .
The tourists were brought in for a penalty earlier and Biggar scored his third to give the Lions a three-point advantage at the break.
Rising South Africa claims victory
The Lions were hoping to go 2-0 in a series for the first time since 1997 – the year the tourists claimed the last series victory in South Africa.
Warren Gatland’s side turned a 12-3 deficit into a victory in the opening test, but the tables were turned this time around.
Pollard started the game-changing move by faking a long pass, then stepping back and transferring the ball to Mapimpi, who sliced inside the cover to score.
The missed opening half conversion could have been costly when Biggar got another shot on goal, but the Lions 10 effort hit the left post and bounced back.
Biggar tested the Springboks with tall balls but they were up for the challenge and when Faf de Klerk kicked a few back, it was the Lions who faltered.
Sale’s scrum-half landed a ball for Am and the center stranding was perhaps O’Keeffe’s most controversial decision.
Am managed to reach the ball before he was dead and South African TV match official Marius Jonker referred to reruns of the Springbok touching the ball with his forearm.
O’Keeffe felt it was a controlled grounding and any hope the Lions had of getting back into the game was extinguished by nine points from Pollard’s boot.
Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones brought his full-time players together for what was undoubtedly an exciting speech as they turned their attention to a high-stakes decision-maker.
Homme du match – Makazole Mapimpi
British and Irish Lions: Hogg ; A Watson, Harris, Henshaw, Van der Merwe; Biggar, Murray ; Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones, Lawes, Curry, Conan.
Substitutes: Owens, Sutherland, Sinckler, Beirne, Faletau, Price, Farrell, Daly.
South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, le greffier; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi, Du Toit, Wiese
Substitutes: Marx, Nyakane, Koch, De Jager, Van Staden, Smith, H Jantjies, Willemse.
Arbitrator: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)