Warren Gatland's side took the lead in the series after beating the Springboks 22 - 17 in their 1st encounter in Cape Town. There were many media side shows during the week, from the banter between Gatland and Rassie, to the drama with Marius Jonker as TMO and the test delivered something for everyone. The supporters of the visiting side will have every right to be pleased and to voice their delight as their team are in the driving seat of the series.
The Lions struggled to get going in the first half of the fixture, as it looked like they were playing the Springboks at their own game, and coming off second best in the physical battle. The Boks were getting points on the board from the Lions transgressions at the break down and were looking a little flat on attack. However a change in tactic for the second half, saw them take the lead and hold on to it, to claim a 1 - 0 lead in the series,
Maro Itoje proved his quality as he was rightly named man of the match. He fronted up to the Springbok forwards and was crucial in swinging the momentum in favor of his side with some sublime pilfering at the break down. Duhan van der Merwe also won his direct battle with opposing wing, Cheslin Kolbe and Ali Price put in a commanding and calm display from the base. Once the Lions starting to string phases together, their backline began to make inroads into the Springbok defense.
The Springboks early substitution of their whole front row played into the Lions hands and they seized the opportunity to swing the momentum of the game. They almost immediately gained dominance in the set pieces and were able to nullify their opponents driving maul, whilst stringing together a solid few of their own. Mako Vunipola was a late call up after Wyn Jones was injured, and he put in a good display when he came on, making sure he got the scrum dominance his side required.
Dan Biggar did well to pin the South Africans back with well placed cross kicks and Owen Farrell sustained the pressure when he came on. The addition of Liam Williams essentially ended the aerial battle as he is aptly named the "bomb diffuser" and Elton Jantjies failed to test out their back 3.
The Lions, once they got going looked powerful and well drilled and will look to improve on this for the second test. I don't expect many changes to the match day 23, however I still believe Josh Adams deserves a look in. Alun Wyn Jones deserves a special mention on his return, he pulled off a mammoth performance after his injury lay off and was instrumental in his side clawing their way back on the score board.
The Lions will know that they can wrap up the series with a win this coming weekend and will surely be upping the intensity at training to ensure that materializes. Gatland will be all too aware of the threat a hurting Springbok side poses and will ensure his players are up for the challenge.