SA vs B&I Lions: What the experts said

SA vs B&I Lions: What the experts said

The Lions saw off the Springboks to go 1-up in the Test series with two games remaining. Gatland’s charges kicked off an inspired comeback in the second half to snatch victory and will now enjoy winning momentum going into next weekend. 


Speaking on Sky Sports, an expert panel of pundits comprising of Maggie Alphonsi, Sam Warburton, Bryan Habana and Sir Ian McGeechan shared their thoughts on the match. 


Alphonsi highlighted the fantastic performance of Maro Itoje: 


 "His tackles, his commitment at the breakdown and his attitude into the game was at another level," she said. "I think he started the Test match ready for it and he finished above everyone else. 


"Courtney Lawes also performed really well, but Itoje was the player who had presence in the line-out in particular and matched up Eben Etzebeth many times. 


"At the breakdown, he comes in at an angle where you just don't see him coming and when he gets a hit and goes through the breakdown, he puts off players like Faf de Klerk from getting a really good, clean break. 


"Everything he did was competitive, physical, he worked hard to the last play of the game and deserved to be man of the match." 


Warburton was impressed by Courtney Lawes on the side of the scrum. 


"Some people weren't picking him for their Lions squads because he didn't play for England in the Six Nations," he said. "I had him certainly in my squad; playing with and against him he's certainly one man I'd always want in my squad. 


"The way Gatland didn't pick him for the last two games was kind of telling him he was going to be in the Test 23, without a doubt. He's a brilliant line-out option - I've tried jumping against him and had absolutely no chance of getting near him. 


"He's a brilliant line-out athlete in attack and defence, and he sets the tone defensively with how hard he comes off the line. He's carrying the ball a lot more than he used to in his earlier days. 


"I just think he's been a massive player for the Lions and when I heard he was playing No. 6, I thought 'what an obvious choice' because he's the most physically dominant player we have out of the four countries." 


McGeechan compared the Lions of the first half to the Lions of the second. 


"I think in the first half they were forcing it, got into contact one on one and lost that contact, and lost any momentum," he said. 


"In the second half, they got out of their own half structurally really well, the kicking game was excellent and so was the kick chase. 


"Then when they got into South Africa's half, they were playing the phases and that's where South Africa kept giving penalties away really and giving the game away. 


"But by the end, I thought they [South Africa] fell off their game anyway. I don't think South Africa had the energy and the fitness to raise their level and match the way the Lions were playing." 


Habana expressed frustration at the Boks’ sub-par performance in the second half. 


"It was a really disappointing second half from a South African perspective," he said. "Discipline is something the whole team will be needing to be looking after going into the second Test match. 


"But the Lions are in the ascendancy in terms of their tactical kicking game. 


"They contest extremely well, put the Springboks under pressure, and the Springboks really need to look at how they finish off games because the turnaround from the first half was really disappointing." 







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