South Africa A v British & Irish Lions: tour match – live!
55 mins. Possession is traded a few times in mostly untidy ways, and in the midst of it all Anthony Watson is on the ground looking in a bad way having what looks like his ankle worked on.
53 mins. Damian Willemse is on for Damian De Allende in the South Africa ranks.
51 mins. Luke Cowan-Dickie replaces Ken Owens, who has been amongst it all game. A test shirt securing performance.
50 mins. For the first time in the match the Lions run an attacking pattern off first phase ball to find Chris Harris who sits Kolbe down by bumping the Bok wing’s tackle. In the midst of this SA are offside at the ruck.
Farrell lines it up for around forty metres and slots it with ease.
Sam Simmonds is on for Faletau. Given the joy the Wales man was having in the loose, the rapid Simmonds will have his dander up for a chance here.
Faf de Klerk has rejoined proceedings, as soon so will Marco van Staden and we’ll be 15-a-side once more.
48 mins. The tourists are much busier this half, perhaps understandably against the thirteen men of the Boks, but the home team are scrambling hard in defence and they close the door on Elliot Daly out right.
46 mins. In scoring that try it looks like Jones has knacked his shoulder so he’s hooked off for Mako Vunipola
45 mins. Anthony Watson is through a gap on the right and again it’s Curry on the shoulder to carry it up to within metres of the Bok line. Wyn Jones carries hard from the ruck and he’s over to score his first Lions try and it’s just reward for a solid performance.
Farrell adds the conversion.
43 mins. Lions are straight on the attack, again via a strong run from Faletau popping up in the thirteen channel. He flicks the ball one-handed to Rees-Zammit who find Curry with and inside pop into the SA 22, but the momentum is lost as he runs out of support runners moving at pace.
40 mins. Steyn gets us back underway.
Vincent Koch is on for Trevor Nyakane
On the plus side, the Lions scrum is going well. Trouble is that the negative column has pretty much everything else in it: kicking out of hand, attacking patterns, lineout, maul, ruck, territory management, everything.
Half time email!
“Lions are going to need around 25 (I’d say) to win this,” ventures John Ryan, “and based on their general play, inability to kick the ball to the corner and inability to take advantage of being two men up, that doesn’t look likely at all.”
Have to agree John. It’s a long way back, and that attack at the end of the half had all the hallmarks of Gatland’s Wales at their worst when they sent pointless wave after pointless wave at the Australia line to zero result.
PEEEEEEEEP! That’s the last act of the half
40+2 mins. Wyn Jones thinks he’s over, and so does Peyper on first look but he wants the TMO to check as it’s a potential double-movement. On review the TMO concludes is a triple movement and so, not a try.
40 mins. It’s another tap-and-go by the Lions and loads of carries from metres out that are blocked out by the the Boks. However, an infringement by Marco van Staden sees ref Peyper reach for his pocket again for persistent infringement.
38 mins. There’s a break in play as Etzebeth gets some treatment and Rassie Erasmus takes the opportunity to replace Dweba at hooker with World Cup winner and all-round powerhouse Malcolm Marx.
The TMO is having a look at a Faf De Clerk tackle as it looks like he’s thrown his shoulder into Wyn Jones. It’s a clear shoulder charge but the scrum-half has luckily not made contact with the head of the Lions prop. Nevertheless, it’s bad enough to attract a sin-bin.
37 mins. On another penalty advantage Farrell creams a cross-kick to Watson who just can’t get over. There follows a number of strong carries, each one repelled by the green shirted defence. The ball is moved to the left after a quick tap penalty and once again it’s strong short carries from the Lions pack, each one stopped short.
35 mins. It’s a rapid response from the Lions as Curry’s soft hands in midfield find Aki who puts Watson away up the right and into the opposition half. The ball is worked left to Rees-Zammit who wriggles and twists but can’t get away. However there was an offside from the Boks in there and Farrell sends it into the corner for a lineout.
33 mins. A kick finds Kolbe on the full in his own half and he needs no second invitation to run it back, execute his trademark hitch-kick to leave Chris Harris for dead before he offloads out of the tackle to Am to score.
31 mins. Well, it would have been an advantage but Murray box-kicks directly into touch. Gah!
30 mins. Some probing long kicks from both sides try to force a decent position and this is brought to an end as Steyn finds touch in his own half for an opposition lineout. Advantage Lions after that mini battle.
28 mins. It was from just left and not far out, Farrell doesn’t miss those.
The Lions can count themselves lucky to only be seven behind after a horrible first 28 mins.
27 mins. Faletau finds himself in possession in the outside-centre channel and turns on the gas to carry into the SA 22. When the ball is recycled the home team are offside and Farrell points at the posts.
25 mins. About the only thing looking up to snuff tonight for the Lions is their scrum and Wyn Jones once again does a number on Trevor Nyakane to win his side a crucial penalty. The ball is worked away and the tourists will have some possession at last somewhere near the South African half.
23 mins. From a lineout in the Lions 22, the home side again put some ominous phases together. This time they fire it right to Kolbe whose dancing feet can’t get past a blanket of covering red shirts. The ball is loose, but it’s a Lions knock-on and SA have a scrum-five from which to attack the Lions line.
20 mins. A fantastic scrum is held rock solid by both packs for fifteen seconds on halfway and when the ball emerges Morne Steyn floats a beauty of a kick that forces Daly to play. He ships to Rees-Zammit who promptly kicks it out on the full from outside his 22.
The Lions kicking game has thus far been akin to a one-legged drunken circus act.
18 mins. Ken Owens wins a turnover penalty just in the South African half to give Farrell the chance to get some territory, but he misses touch! Willie Le Roux recovers the ball and it’s another poor outcome from the England captain who isn’t having a vintage one so far.
15 mins. Liam Williams has left the field for a HIA, replaced at fullback by Elliot Daly.
14 mins. Ferocious defence rush from the Boks means the ball is slow for the Lions and allows Etzebeth to charge down a slightly laboured Farrell kick. It pops to De Allende who quickly feeds Nkosi for a 6o metre run in.
Steyn adds the extras from out wide.
11 mins. Advantage Lions early in the set piece after Trevor Nyakane hits the ground and is pinged for collapsing. From the resulting lineout the Lions try to get the maul going but Mostert is in to disrupt and bring the attack to a halt by winning a penalty.
8 mins. It’s early, but the Lions are struggling to control any possession and are being marmalised at the ruck. Now the first scrum of the match is on the way – it’s a Lions one just inside their own half
6 mins. An advantage was being played and Steyn takes the shot at goal and makes no mistake.
5 mins. The A Team nick a Lions lineout that puts them on the attack in the 22. It’s the first time in the match that some phases are put together by either team and after a few probing attacks the ball is floated left to Nkosi who grounds the ball in the left corner!
But a quick review by the TMO shows that Anthony Watson’s desperate cover tackle forced the Bok wing’s foot into touch. NO TRY!
3 mins. The home side have kicked every possession away to test Liam Williams who is thus far up to it. Off the latest kick the Boks are offside, but the tourists can’t take advantage as they are caught holding on in the ruck by a strong De Allende jackal.
1 min. Owen Farrell gets us underway with a short kick and South Africa A have a few darts before Rees Zammit claims a mark from an aimless chip forward.
“Kyle Sinckler will have his work cut out tonight against Steven Kitshoff when they scrum down.” offers jeffprobynstwin, and with that name I’m assuming he knows his front row stuff. “If Sinckler gets parity that will be a good achievement. This is also Wyn Jones’ chance to target Trevor Nyakane who I believe to be the weak link in the Springbok front row.”
More Lions squad news
There are no hooker injuries, apparently, Warren Gatland simply thinks it’s prudent to have four on tour at this stage.
Lions selection shenanegans explained.
Warren Gatland has just been on the TV to inform us that Josh Adams’ wife is in labour so he’s otherwise engaged presently watching his child be born over Zoom. Seriously.
Dan Biggar’s absence is far less dramatic; he rolled his ankle yesterday and has failed a late fitness test.
In case you haven’t heard, Alun Wyn Jones is fit again and has re-joined the tour as Captain. Rumours are that this amazing recovery is because he’s an indestructible cyborg sent from the future, but if you want a more factual rendering of the whole story then read all about it here…
This is not a bad way to spend a Wednesday evening, is it? Share all your thoughts with me via email or tweet @bloodandmud, if you’re into that sort of thing.
South Africa A have decided to include, well, pretty much every big name that is either free from injury or isolation. Seriously, just bloody look at that team!
Particular Lions misery interest will be directed to the ten shirt, where 129-year-old Morné Steyn is in to haunt the Lions with memories of this late series winning penalty in 2009.
Warren Gatland names some interesting combinations with many venturing that Bundee Aki and Chris Harris could well start the first test in the centres. But some late selections shenanegans has seen likely first choice half-back pairing of no longer tour captain Conor Murray and Dan Biggar torn asunder with Owen Farrell in for his Welsh tour-mate at the last minute.
Elsewhere there’s an exciting backrow trio in Curry, Navidi and Faletau, while try machine Josh Adams is another late selection yoink – Liam Willliams replaces him and swaps positions with Anthony Watson at fullback.
South Africa A: Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am (capt), Damian de Allende, Sbu Nkosi; Morné Steyn, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Joseph Dweba, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Marco van Staden, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.
Lions: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, Chris Harris, Bundee Aki, Anthony Watson; Owen Farrell, Conor Murray (capt); Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Iain Henderson, Josh Navidi, Tom Curry, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Tadhg Beirne, 21 Sam Simmonds, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Elliot Daly.
Hello everyone, the Lions have decamped to Cape Town to play South Africa A and I’m here to bring you all the action.
It’s been a strange old tour so far in the midst of all the Covidness. A provincial team has been played twice, Lions match squads ripped asunder with a midweek infection scares and the clatter of hefty challenges reverberating off endless rows of empty plastic seats have all contributed to a feeling of a party not quite getting stared. A bit like that section of a wedding day when the tables from the meal are cleared away and everyone hangs around waiting for the night do to start – everyone is still enjoying it, and has a bit of an early evening buzz on, but it feels like the serious business is only coming when the lights go down and the DJ fires up “Love Really Hurts Without You”.
Well, the house lights are about to be switched off, Billy Ocean is clearing his throat and the strobes are about to blind everyone because what’s ahead of us is a proper game of rugby. South Africa Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, is back in the coach’s chair temporarily and he’s decided to mark his return by assembling an A Team of such power and resources that there’s no requirement for BA Baracus to even get on no plane, fool.
The Lions, after a bit of a cakewalk thus far, will now be forced to put their worrying defensive indiscipline in the 22 and too often ragged attacking ruck and maul up against a test team. A South African test team.
In a way, Warren Gatland can play whatever happens here as a positive. If his side wins, then it’s another step towards a winning tour; but a loss can also be finessed into lessons learned from a contest against a true tier 1 team with one more game and a bit of time to adjust before the actual first Test on 24 July.
Either way, I’m very much looking forward to this.