The Springboks surged to victory in the second half and overcame their half time deficit, to beat the British & Irish Lions 27 -9 in the 2nd test in Cape Town. It was a hugely physical battle with both sides giving it their all and getting well and truly into one another's faces. Two first-half yellow cards for Duhan van der Merwe and Cheslin Kolbe showed that the referee was not taking any nonsense after a week of controversy surrounding the officiating.
The win sets up a final for next weekend as the series stands at 1 all, leaving the excitement around the tour in place for another week, as fans and punt-its alike have another 7 days to wait to see who will end the 2021 Lions series as victors, holding that title for the next 12 years. The antics in the week surrounding the officiating definitely came to the fore as players looked to direct the referee's attention to many trivial incidents. Ultimately though, rugby was the winner on the day.
The British & Irish Lions lead the first half and were controlling the game well for large parts as they strung together phases and Dan Biggar kept the score board ticking with the boot. A silly yellow card for Duhan van der Merwe for kicking Cheslin Kolbe looked like it would give the Boks the momentum shift they needed. However moments later, Kolbe was carded for playing the man in the air, as Connor Murray took the catch. Both teams would spend roughly the same period, down to 14 men.
It was as if the Boks got the team talk the B&I Lions did the week previously as they came out of the sheds for the 2nd half firing. Without the interruptions to the front row, the Boks were able to build on their game and slowly started to outmuscle the Lions forwards. The driving maul began to click and made meters, whilst the scrum started to pay dividends as the Lions props began to concede penalties under pressure. Once the forwards became dominant, Handre Pollard was able to get go forward ball and the game took off from there.
Pollard put in a sublime chip kick to send Mapimpi in for a try, who was ultimately crowned man of the match, whilst another grubber later on in the half from Faf, put Am away too with an excellent chase and grounding.
All of Pollard, Am and Mapimpi could have won man of the match without an eye brow being raised and South African fans will be pleased to see their team starting to pick up steam.
The citing commissioner is likely to be busy this week after last weeks media attention with Kolbe's challenge in the air being looked at along with a possible shoulder charge from De Klerk. The Lions will be under scrutiny too as there is an alleged bite from Stuart Hogg on his opposite number, Willie Le Roux, whilst Maro Itoje was seen with his knee on De Allende's neck.
Gatland has indicated there are no certainties around his selection for the deciding test and his previous tour of Australia shows the coach isn't averse to making wholesale changes if needed. Whilst an injury to Pieter-Steph Du Toit's shoulder also looked series and Jacques Nienaber may be worried to put out a loose trio missing him as well as the still injured Vermeulen.
Next weekend is the final, both teams have a lot to work on, and all bets are on for a cracking 3rd test.