THE LIONS suffered more Morne Steyn heartbreak – 12 years after he kicked South Africa to a series win.
Just like Pretoria in 2009, Cape Town 2021 was agony after ecstasy for Warren Gatland’s tourists.
South Africa celebrate after their thrilling series win over the Lions[/caption]
Morne Steyn, 37, kicked a late penalty in a 19-16 win in Cape Town[/caption]
The Lions lost the series in South Africa after late heartbreak[/caption]
South Africa were over the moon to clinch the series[/caption]
Super-sub Steyn was yet again the man who smashed the winning kick, playing in his second series at the grand old age of 37.
The golden oldie nailed the historic winner with just two and a half minutes to go as the Lions threw away another lead against the world champs.
They were also punished by Cheslin Kolbe’s tricky feet after Ken Owens’ first-half score in boss Gatland and skipper Alun Wyn Jones’ last hurrah.
But forget 2009 for a while, everyone was thinking about 1997 when magician Finn Russell stepped off the bench for his first game in a month.
The Scotland star finally got the Lions playing the brand of rugby they pride themselves on with tricks and neat play to get you out of your seat.
Gregor Townsend, Russell’s international boss and current Lions attack coach was the playmaker that did the business in the 2-1 series win here 24 years ago.
And Russell came so close to doing the same, only for veteran Steyn to shatter their hearts.
Rassie Erasmus, or Jaco Johan – whatever alias he’s hiding behind – turned the tour toxic with his annihilation of ref Nic Berry after the First Test defeat.
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Dan Biggar went off injured after just 11 minutes of the game[/caption]
Owens went over after a Lions drive from a line-out in the first half[/caption]
The match was an incredibly tight one in which both sides traded the lead[/caption]
Finn Russell filled his boots impressively as he kicked three penalties[/caption]
This Covid-rocked series has been full of aggro and anger on and off the pitch after Erasmus’ embarrassing 62-minute video rant.
Few sparks have flown in terms of action on the turf during the Tests
Yet Steyn and Russell, on for crocked Dan Biggar after 11 minutes, at least ensured it ended with some hope.
Biggar dragged a penalty kick wide after just three minutes as the Lions had the first shot at goal in a tense battle.
And whilst they restricted the Boks to little time with the ball, at first they couldn’t do much with it.
Then things turned sour when Biggar had to be carried off with a damaged knee.
So on came the magician, Russell, who first kicked a penalty to level things at 3-3.
They all came for a fight, but finally a game of running rugby broke out thanks to baller Russell.
Its looked like a game of rugby. . . it sounded like a game of rugby. . . and at last – it felt like a game of rugby – and that is what the Lions is about.
Free spirit Russell kicked to the corner when the Boks coughed another penalty.
Owens’ line out to Maro Itoje was bullseye perfect and the hooker shuffled round to the back of the maul and plopped over thanks to a monster drive.
Kolbe brilliantly went over for South Africa as the match approached the hour mark[/caption]
The boring Boks continued to slow everything down as the most over-coached side in the world played like robots.
Things started to get fast and loose – Duhan Van der Merwe bashed it up, Josh Adams was found in space by Liam Williams and the Lions were absolutely purring.
On the other side the Boks lineout was falling apart.
A flick was switched by the Red Army, but even at seven points up, they needed more – it was unbelievably dramatic to the death.
When South Africa had a chance to attack a Lions scrum 30m out they used their pure beef to win a penalty and Pollard kicked it.
The half lasted for eight-minutes less than last week, but with 10 times the excitement.
Pollard rattled an upright with a long range penalty when Duracell bunny Tom Curry tackled Siya Kolisi on the ground in a heart-in-your-mouth moment.
There was yet more drama when Russell dodged a yellow for a high shot on Kolbe – a bloke who shouldn’t have even been playing after his take-out of Conor Murray last week.
But Pollard shanked another penalty as the Lions got out of jail again.
Not for a third time, though, as Kolbe was let loose by Willie le Roux to beat Williams and Luke Cowan-Dickie jinking home.
Another agonising TV ref decision looking for a potential knock-on in there build-up proved fruitless and Pollard added the extras.
It was an incredibly physical encounter as both sides put it all on the line[/caption]
Pollard kicked four penalties and a conversion on Saturday evening[/caption]
Pollard produced another superb display with his boot[/caption]
For the first time, the Boks were 13-10 ahead in the 58th minute.
Then just five minutes later, Russell hit a 45 metre penalty to draw it level – though the Boks had their own joker card.
Steyn, now a Boks super legend, replaced Pollard and kicked the hosts in front.
The Lions roared back and with 12 minutes to go, kicked to the corner after more Bok dirty play, instead of taking the easy three on offer, they went for broke.
The pressure continued to crank up and when Mako Vunipola was held up over the line they Lions had a scrum. . . but in a theme of this series, the Boks then won a penalty through their pack.
Russell then fired back with his third penalty to level with just six minutes left before Steyn’s winner.
Rugby, bloody hell.