South Africa v British and Irish Lions, First Test 2021: Match Preview

KO 5.00pm at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Saturday 24th July 2021

Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action

After all the moments it looked like it might not happen; after all the thoughts of delays, of moving the series to the UK, Australia, anywhere; after Covid hitting both camps; somehow here we are, about to witness a Lions’ Test series kicking off in South Africa for just the third time in the last 40 years.

Tale of the tape

53   Tries   88
   Average weight   92kg
231   Total caps   390
29.3   Average age   28.5

885kg   Pack weight   911kg
   Tries   36
322   Total caps  449
29.5   Average age   29.1

224   Total caps   475
   Tries   57
28.3   Average age   30.4

Changes from South Africa ‘A’ v Lions

  • 9 Springboks’ starters also started for SA ‘A’
  • 16 of the Springboks’ First Test 23 also played for SA ‘A’
  • 3 Lions’ starters also started against SA ‘A’
  • 12 of the Lions’ First Test 23 also played against SA ‘A’

15 Willie le Roux
14 Cheslin Kolbe
13 Lukhanyo Am
12 Damian de Allende
11 Makazole Mapimpi
10 Handre Pollard
9 Faf de Klerk

ADV Lions
ADV Springboks
ADV Springboks
ADV Lions
ADV Springboks

15 Stuart Hogg
14 Anthony Watson
13 Elliot Daly
12 Robbie Henshaw
11 Duhan van der Merwe
10 Dan Biggar
9 Ali Price

1 Ox Nche
2 Bongi Mbonambi
3 Trevor Nyakane
4 Eben Etzebeth
5 Franco Mostert
6 Siya Kolisi (c)
7 Pieter-Steph du Toit
8 Kwagga Smith

ADV Lions
ADV Lions
ADV Springboks
ADV Lions
ADV Lions
ADV Springboks

1 Rory Sutherland
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
3 Tadhg Furlong
4 Alun Wyn Jones (c)
5 Maro Itoje
7 Tom Curry
6 Courtney Lawes
8 Jack Conan

16 Malcolm Marx
17 Steven Kitshoff
18 Frans Malherbe
19 Lood de Jager
20 Rynhardt Elstadt
21 Herschel Jantjies
22 Elton Jantjies
23 Damian Willemse

ADV Springboks
ADV Springboks
ADV Springboks
ADV Lions
ADV Lions
ADV Lions
ADV Lions

16 Ken Owens
17 Mako Vunipola
18 Kyle Sinckler
19 Tadhg Beirne
20 Hamish Watson
21 Conor Murray
22 Owen Farrell
23 Liam Williams

South Africa Scouting Report

For all that the sides might not have been full strength and the claims that both coaches were sandbagging to avoid showing their hand, there was still plenty of interesting stuff in the South Africa ‘A’ game – the closest to full intensity the tour has come so far. Here are a few items that might well carry through to the Test series.

Kicking clash

There was a lot of kicking on both sides last week in Cape Town. That’s not necessarily something either coach would be too unhappy about. What they might be more concerned about was the quality in this facet of the game. Winning the kicking battle will be crucial in the Test series and both sides still have some work to do.

For the Lions the main issue was simple inaccuracy. In the early stages they were pressured into errors by poor setup work and wrong decisions. Things picked up in the second half and the kick chase was much stronger but Saturday will need to see 80 minutes of getting almost everything right.

The change in personnel should help. Having Stuart Hogg at full back to boom kicks down the pitch is a big boost. He will share the workload with Dan Biggar and Elliot Daly to give the Lions a triumvirate of options in the outside backs. A lot of this will start with Ali Price at 9 though. The Glasgow Warriors’ player has been the best performing scrum half on tour and with his kicking for Scotland taking a real step up this season he will look to keep things contestable or find space where possible.

South Africa ‘A’ struggled to get enough on their kicks to work their way out of the territorial stranglehold the Lions’ had them in for much of the last 50 minutes of the game. Morne Steyn in particular couldn’t seem to get much distance on his kicks. Even Faf de Klerk’s bombs were dropping a little short – still contestable but not winning much ground.

The return of Handre Pollard to the starting lineup should bring the Springboks’ kicking game up to par. Scrum half de Klerk will no doubt have his eye in. Once the contest starts it’s important that the Lions win the territorial edge and don’t let the home side work themselves into positions from where they can strike.


  • The players forming the South Africa ‘A’ 10/12/13 axis only made 5 passes/offloads combined against the Lions (who had 32 passes from the same positions).
  • SA ‘A’ only broke 7 tackles all night, allowing the Lions to finish with a 93% tackle completion rate (South Africa – 87%).
  • The hosts conceded 17 penalties + free kicks as well as 2 yellow cards.
  • Despite winning possesion 56 times in their opponents’ 22 the Lions only managed to cross for a solitary try – mainly due to some brutally physical defence from the South Africa ‘A’ side.

Scot Watch

No Scottish back has played a single minute of game time in a Lions’ Test series in the 21st Century.

The 5 Scots in the matchday squad are the most since there were 7 in the lineup for the 3rd Test against Australia in 1989.

Stuart Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe and Ali Price will be the first Scots to start a match in a Lions’ Test series since Tom Smith against Australia, 14 July 2001.

Rory Sutherland is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match at loosehead prop since Tom Smith against Australia, 14 July 2001 – a gap of 20 years.

Duhan van der Merwe is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match on the wing since Alan Tait against South Africa, 28 June 1997 – a gap of 24 years.

Stuart Hogg is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match at full back since Gavin Hastings against New Zealand, 3 July 1993 – a gap of 28 years.

Ali Price is the first Scot to start a Lions’ Test series match at scrum half since Roy Laidlaw against New Zealand, 16 July 1983 – a gap of 38 years.


Lions’ lineup by club*
Gallagher Premiership – 7
Bath – 1; Bristol – 1; Exeter – 2; Northampton – 2; Sale – 1.
Greene King IPA Championship – 4
Saracens – 4
United Rugby Championship – 12
Edinburgh – 3; Glasgow – 1; Leinster – 3; Munster – 2; Ospreys – 1; Scarlets – 2.

Springboks’ lineup by club*
Gallagher Premiership – 2
Sale – 2.
Top 14 – 5
Montpellier – 1; Pau – 1; Toulon – 1; Toulouse – 2.
Top League – 4
Honda Heat – 1; Kubota Spears – 1; Toyota Verblitz – 1; Yamaha Jubilo.
United Rugby Championship – 12.
Bulls – 1; Munster – 1; Sharks – 4; Stormers – 6.

Ox Nche and Rynhardt Elstadt are the only players in the Springboks’ 23 who were not part of their RWC squad in 2019.

– There are 13 players in the South African matchday squad who played in the World Cup final win over England including 11 men who will have started both matches.

– All 9 English players in the Lions’ lineup featured in that RWC final defeat to the Springboks.

– 12 of the Home Nations’ side have previously won Test caps for the Lions’ – 6 starters and 6 players on the bench.

– This will be Alun Wyn Jones’ 20th Test match appearance against South Africa.

– By contrast, Duhan van der Merwe, Jack Conan, Rory Sutherland and Tadhg Beirne will all be facing the Springboks for the first time in their careers.


Referee: Nic Berry (RA)
Assistant Referee 1: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR)
Assistant Referee 2: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)

This quartet of officials will take charge of all three Tests with the onfield trio rotating as referee for one game each.

* team most recently played for in the case of players moving this summer

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When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

90 comments on “South Africa v British and Irish Lions, First Test 2021: Match Preview

  1. Fraser on

    Official team out – looks the same as the leaked one except Williams on the bench instead of Henderson so 5-3 split.

    Overall looks strong and can’t be too unhappy with the number of Scots.

    Still think Sutherland is a much better scrummager than Jones but at least he’s on the bench.

    Watson and Curry is tight and Watson unlucky but again on the bench.
    Hopefully an upgrade for those 2 to starter next week if the make a big impact.

    Harris unlucky to miss out but can see why with Daly’s versatility.

    Lawes starting over Beirne is the worst call for me – Beirne has been the standout player.

    Watson also being picked on reputation a bit as other wingers have done more on tour but great to see VDM rewarded.

    Price clearly been the best 9 so no surprise there and surely it was always going to be Hogg at 15….

    Irish and Welsh are going to go nuts with more English players starting, as I’ve said Lawes is the only one I can really disagree with – with Curry/Watson tight calls.

    • pytelium on

      from the start I predicted 3 Scots and 3 Irish ONLY would start. In fact they both have 2 on the bench. so both have 2 missing the 23 also.!!

  2. Gavin on

    Been thinking about the team since the leak last night – obviously most of the debate on here has been talking up our players vs those from the other nations (and rightly so given some of the drivel from pundits who were giving the benefit of the doubt to the non-Scot in all marginal calls). Realistically you’d expect us to get some, but not all, of the marginal calls, which is what has happened in the end. I think when the squad was announced if you’d have said we’d have 3 starters and 2 on the bench that most of us would be reasonably happy and personally I think it’s time to get behind the boys on the pitch whatever the nationality – now that the Lions is actually representative of all four unions.

    Really pleased it’s 5/3 rather than 6/2 and hoping that Watson and Beirne have a huge impact off the bench as both are unlucky not to be starting. Although slightly worried by Daly in defence he’s the most exciting centre in the squad in an attacking sense so hopefully him and Hogg can light it up.

  3. Merlot on

    Cannot find fault with this selection. Power and guile in equal measure with a bench stacked with talent and able to close a game out (if leading) or fire it up (if chasing).
    So glad for Hoggy – so many pundits were picking Williams (or even Watson) at FB I was starting to worry I had been watching different games over the last month (year?).
    Ali Price has earned his start – partly due to Murray and Davies not firing on all cylinders, but also because he’s upped every facet of his game – kicking, passing and sniping runs. Hope he keeps that up.
    Happy with Curry starting – a great player and with Watson on the bench – what an impact sub.
    I’d have picked Lawes and Beirne the other way round, as I really rate the Irishman. But I understand having an “enforcer” from the start will set the tone. It will be great to cheer on Courtney, for once!
    Harris must have been close to the 23 but Daly is more of an attacking threat and Farrell and Williams pretty much cover all the options.
    Excited now, and so happy to be cheering for the Lions, no matter which nation they originate from.

  4. Sam Benedict on

    Hmm…think Malherbe is comfortably better than Sinckler. Also de Allende is at very least evens with Henshaw, I’d take Kwagga Smith over Jack Conan, Kolisi and Curry evens, Mapimpi over Duhan, both the Jantjies evens with the Lions’ benched halfbacks.

    • Pirate4 on

      Malherbe is a monster in the scrums and the entire front row replacements are on the bench tactically, not because they are lesser players.
      Kwagga is the Boks equivalent to Curry and Watson. Not big by modern standards but strong with all the necessary skills.

    • Kevin Millar on

      Malherbe is a far superior scrummager for sure. Sinckler better in every other area. How many scrums is Malherbe likely to get to show his superiority? Compared to how many involvements Sinckler will have in other areas? Think there’s enough to even up that battle across the piece.

      Henshaw v de Allende is close but Henshaw has a much broader skillset.

      Conan has been the Lions’ best carrier on tour and has beaten out more experienced players to earn his place. Smith is there by default. He’s also one of the least experienced players (in terms of top level XVs games) involved – and he’s giving away nearly 20kgs to Conan!

      Kolisi is a magnificent leader but as a player alone I would say both Curry and Watson are ahead of him as openside flankers.

      Mapimipi is coming in cold whereas VDM is coming in on a hot streak that runs back to the Autumn Nations Cup.

      The Lions’ bench halfbacks have 191 Test caps between them. Everyone loves to knock them but Murray and Farrell have seen and done pretty much everything in rugby. Elton Jantjies is the epitome of a flaky fly half. Herschel Jantjies is talented but a big step down from de Klerk.

      • Pirate4 on

        Agree that FM isn’t exactly mobile but the Boks prefer the power game so he fits the bill.
        Kolisi is there as captain and will probably last 50-60 minutes playing on the wing !!. The change will probably be De Jager for Kolisi and Mostert to flanker.
        Agree Smith doesn’t have many caps but he is an experienced seven’s player with skilled hands and speed. Not typical No 8 but more than capable.
        Will be interesting as always.

  5. andyc on

    Agree with most said. Thing 5-3 split is risky. Boks will look to bash up front. Highly probable injuries will kick in during these tests. Sutherland and Mish will definitely get game time Saturday. These tests most likely 20-23 man affairs over the 80. Not certain Bigger 100% fit? Fingers , and everything else crossed for Finn, think he has a part to play here.

  6. Jock in Paddyland on

    I’m delighted that Dawson, Warburton and the many other pundits who had zero Scots in their 15/23 have been confounded. It’s great that a number of selections (for example, Price and Cowan-Dickie) have been made based on current form rather than “credit in the bank”. Ali Price thoroughly merits his start having been the best scrum half in the series. Despite his detractors, DVDM has been on great form, has great stats, and has won two POTMs so far, so his selection really shouldn’t be the surprise that some journalists are suggesting it is. Great to see Hoggy finally getting the Lions Test start he deserves. It’s a shame Hamish Watson isn’t starting, but he and other Scots may well get his chance next week.

    • Merlot on

      To be fair to Matt Dawson (and I’m not sure I want to be), he only picked his starting XV and would have Price on the bench (with Farrell). With 6 forwards I would assume Sutherland and Watson would both be there too.
      Obviously his selection of Vunipola is biased and based on past, not current, form, and as such should be derided as much as it has been. Monye and Cipriani both picked him as well – he’s obviously a lovely guy to have around in the English camp.
      All of his other selections were sound, if skewed against the Scots.
      Williams v Hogg – Stuart has looked good under the high ball this tour, which probably gave him the edge as he beats Bendy hands down for attacking threat.
      Adams v DVDM – none of us would have been surprised if Gatland had gone Dawson’s choice.
      Murray v Price – even Daws said that Price was the in-form SH.
      Simmonds v Conan – not sure whether I’d have not preferred Simmonds at 8, but happy with the big Irishman.
      Curry v Watson – both should get starts at some point in the series.
      Beirne v Lawes – I would have gone with Matt Dawson and picked Beirne, but I like Gatlands choice with Tadgh on the bench.

      I just thought I’d point out that, although Matt Dawson is an arse, maybe not as big a one as first appears.

  7. NewHavenBoy on

    Really looking forward to this series now. 3 Edinburgh Players! Tremendous. Shame two are off to Worcester.

    Have to feel for Adams a bit he feels the one thats missed out and I can sort of sympathise with the Welsh on that. Id have had him in for Williams which they would like less. I suppose the Welsh tend to feel about Hogg like many Scots do about AW Jones. “Not sure what the fuss is about”

    Bear with me on this as I get all Squidge about the thinking. I think in the backs they started with the centres mix. Henshaw and Daly chosen to give a playmaking 13. But takes away the chance to bosh it up that Aki would give. Therefore to get that humpty they want VDM so he can come in on late inside lines off flyhalf.
    If Harris or Aki had played I am not sure VDM would have.

    What I am glad of is that “stick on 15” players who have not played well have dropped back. Henderson, Murray and Falatau have not hit their straps and been replaced.

  8. pytelium on

    If the lions loose there maybe some players who may not make the 23 for the last 2 matches.Its a sobering thought.

  9. greengumbo on

    First Lions series I really watched was the 97 tour to SA. Brilliant series. I’ve been hyper critical of the Lions in the Gatland era and have seen it as totally irrelevant as a Scottish rugby fan. However this series feels different and feels like more of a meritocracy. I am bang up for this now and cannot wait ! Great series of podcasts in the build up lads. Keep it up.

    • James on

      RWC 1995 followed by Lions 1997. Those were the days. And the Five Nations in 1999 seemed to promise a great start to the millennium. Shame the wheels fell it in 2000!

  10. andyc on

    I said elsewhere Gatland couldnt give a rats arse about all the bollocks from the media. He deserves huge credit. Not something i thought i would ever say. Needless to say on other platforms toony is some malevolent, Soros type svengali who has perverted the natural order, ie no scots. Hoping for MOM Performance from Hoggy. You would have to be a massive tool to not wish him luck after the bad variety he has had on previous tours, especially 2017. Hoping, and given their quality,expecting Strong performances from all Scots selected, and the team. At last A TRULY representative squad. Cmon lions

    • JohnMc on

      Yes, I think we agreed with each other a few days ago that there were signs Gatland was going to select on form not reputation or past deeds – which to a large extent he has done for the first Test.

      It’s going to be brutal on Saturday – Saffers still haven’t forgotten 74 and 97 and never will – and I’m delighted that five of our touring eight are going to be in the 23 on merit.

      Good luck to every one of those 23.

  11. Saint4805 on

    In fairness to Gatland he certainly gives his fellow coaches a say in selection and takes their opinions on board. If the coaching team had been the same as 2017 (Andy Farrell, Rowntree, Howley etc.) this test 23 would be very different IMHO.

    The Boks are clearly pinning their hopes on their scrum replacements as a way of controlling the second half. If Sutherland, Owens and Sinckler can compete in the scrum I for one can’t wait to see the explosive impact of Mish and Beirne off the bench.

    If the Lions win this series I can see Toonie being in pole position for the HC role in 2025.

    • NewHavenBoy on

      I think Townsend has had a big influence on the backs selection. Players picked to play to whatever his plan is to unlock the Boks defence. And that plan seems to involve speed and the ability to beat a man out wide one on one.

  12. andyc on

    I agree about the bench the thing about professional team sport at the highest level, especially rugby. It bears little comparison to 20, even 10 years ago. The sheer physical toll it takes specifically against SA. means its a 23 man game. These guys could come of the bench and impact hugely. I thought the Lions looked fitter last week, which you would expect given Boks issues since WC 2019. Looking forward to the game. Maybe looking at this through Tartan Specs. But whilst i agree with the point about the influence of the coaching team. Thought in previous tours this was demeaning to Scots, with the geography six etc, i realize they were not all Scottish. . Don t get that vibe from Townsend, and Tandy is welsh.

  13. Big Al on

    Delighted for Hoggy especially and all the Scottish lads in the matchday 23. I’m sure they’ll give a great account of themselves this weekend.

  14. 1.8T on

    Pretty happy with that, Duhan and Ali Price have been rightly rewarded for their excellent performances in the dirt tracker games. Mish missing out is the only one I’m peeved with, he has comprehensively out performed Curry, hopefully he gets his chance. Sutherland vs Jones was always going to be tight, a month ago and I would have said Jones starting every day, just glad Mako is nowhere near the squad which was touted by a few English pundits, that would have been farcical. Mon the boys!

  15. BryzzoWan78 on

    Very happy with the squad selection – I’d have bitten your hand off for this at the beginning of the tour. After the crushing disappointment of the last 20 years, this has felt quite emotional to see some of our guys in there. We finally have skin in the game! Hope they do themselves justice. Hoggy in particular who just doesn’t seem to get the credit he deserves from other nations fans. I’ll settle for a safe, error-free, quietly effective performance from him – but would LOVE to see him score a worldy at top speed from 40 yards out! C’mon Lions.

  16. Warks Scot on

    Pleased that selection has been made on current form/presumably gameplan and not previous reputation and good to see a strong and worthy Scottish representation. However, it might just be me but a bit concerned that the coaches were so far apart with their personal selections; hope that doesn’t mean that there is a lack of common vision. Really need there to be an agreed and understood strategy, even if it’s not what everyone usually plays to. Just hope it works on Saturday.

    • Saint4805 on

      I think the coaches are probably aligned as far as the game plan goes. The differences will relate to who is best placed to execute it. Listening to Gatland’s post team selection interview I wasn’t overly convinced that he was in favour of starting Hogg. It sounded like a 50/50 call between him and Williams and that Hogg got the nod because of the bad luck he had four years ago. Daly was already able to cover the back three and I think they’ve put Williams on the bench as an insurance policy in case one of the back three is having a torrid time under the high ball or with Kolbe. It’s going to a kicking fest I reckon.

      • NewHavenBoy on

        There are probably several toss up decisions and bench permutations that quickly add up. I just see it a good competition for places which I think is good.

        Cowan – Dickie v George v Owens
        Daly or Harris, Mish v Curry, Bierne v Lawes.
        5-3 vs 6-2 (which they seem to have changed their minds on)
        A true lock on the bench vs a hyrid.

        The only one of which would change the “vision” might be having an attacking 13.

        I’d be surprised to discover for instance that any of the coaches did not have a hybrid at 6.

        Everybody has honed in on Lions on the receiving end of high balls but there is also concern in some places about the Boks ability when it comes the other way. Le Roux is also seen as dodgy. Say what you like about Biggar he is very good at regathering his own kicks as well.

      • Merlot on

        Hogg was obviously a 50-50 call, but got the nod as he’s the slightly better attacker and has improved under the high ball. Personally I would have had Williams starting instead of DVDM – what you lose in attack is more than made up for in defence, positioning, experience and high ball taking/retrieving. Duhan comes on as an impact sub for the last 15 to put the Boks away.
        Personally it’s great that Bandy and Hoggy are fighting it out – competition breeds performance and let’s face it, Stuart hasn’t had much competition for the 15 shirt in dark blue.

  17. pytelium on

    I hope the Lions win but I think South Africa will win. Are there any kickers available on the Lions panel which are as good as those on the SA side? This is the first time we have a Lions side with so many untested combinations in high pressure matches. Henshaw and Daly are the only combination which started one of the 6 warm up games together. Just think about tomorrow 9 is a Scot,10 is Welsh,12 is Irish and 13 is English. Now this may be fine after a Test or two but starting off?
    If the Lions can stay within 7 points by half time there is a chance the can win
    the match late on but I think the odds are against that.
    I do hope the referee cuts out foul play early on and also that the Lions are not beaten by a big margin.

    • Saint4805 on

      I’d say the Lions will need to be leading by at least 7 points before the Boks replacement (first choice) props come on.

      • andyc on

        Equally its a great vote of confidence in the lions forwards on the bench. Specifically the front row given that the boks picked their team a day before the lions some of this must have been considered. Huge gamble by SA . Incidentally some of the loons posting on Wales online have to be seen to be believed

      • Saint4805 on

        It’s not just Walesonline. You should watch Brian O’Driscoll’s latest interview on Off the Ball. Yet again showing complete disrespect to Scottish players like Price and DVDM and having digs right left and centre at all things Scottish. He was a great player in his day and while he might be an A list celebrity in Ireland with a load of social media followers, his legacy outside of Ireland is being tarnished with his biased and disrespectful punditry.

  18. Ardent on

    I’ve given up reading things for a couple of days.I really find it obscene the way that-apparently-highly distinguish former players,Woodward,Warburton and O’Driscoll to name but three ,are still harping on.Selection is over and now is the time to come together irrespective of national divisions.Its the Lions ,its “our Boys” this weekend not a time count the numbers of Welshmen etc.
    How disgusting that on what should be the greatest day in the rugby lives of our five squad members that they might be hearing all this nonsense.Shame on them,this behaviour is no better than the vitriolic response to England’s defeat in the Euro penalty shoot out.Go lads-and not just the Scots!

    • JohnMc on

      It’s a collective and self-reinforcing mindset, formed by the opinion that the Scots were sh*t at rugby from 2000 to early 2015 and that any good results from 2016 onwards were flukes or aberrations.

      It’s a refusal to accept that Scottish international teams, and player quality in the teams, have improved greatly in the last few years.

      They can’t get their heads round it so they blank or deny it.

      It’s not just the ex-international player pundits either – have a look at the BBC website’s popular pick for a Lions 23 for the first Test. A joke selection, one that tomorrow’s Saffers would likely tear apart.

      Really looking forward to supporting everyone in tomorrow’s 23.

  19. Andyc on

    . I think he just doesn’t rate Scotland. In 6 nations you primarily focus on your own games and the one against Ireland was easily Scotland’s worse. I think for Irish pundits it confirmed their prejudices. Also it massively bristles with him the World Cup vote in favour of France. Less so with wales it seems. Add into that his personal history with gatland dropping him?

    I listened and thought the worst was his dismissal of Watson

    Honestly to go all keegan, would love it for scots to shine and see what he says. Probably the boks were unfit

    • pytelium on

      I don’t think any nation will consider Scotland seriously until we win a grand slam but
      that can’t be too far away.

  20. Andyc on

    Another thing they all seem to think gatland is being brainwashed. They seem incapable to accept he might, whisper it, rate some Scotland players. He goes from rugby’s fergie strongman, no ones fool etc to Townsend and Tandys stooge. Also glad to see Neil Francis finally being pulled up for his shock jock , click bait, journalism style. What terrible comments about young smith.

    • Rob on

      They are also pissed that Sexton wasn’t selected to tour. This is the Sexton who didn’t play for Leinster at the tail end of the season! A walking concussion all the time and lucky to last a full game.

      • Grumpy on

        It was good to read him praise Dave Rennie for supporting him. Not the side to him we saw in the stands. I see Seiuli has gone to dragons , where I have no doubt he will be a thorn in our sides.

  21. Not science on

    Didn’t think I could appreciate a fly half as much as Finn Russell. Along comes Marcus Smith, gets Neil Francis sacked. Take a bow son, take a bow!

    • Alanyst on

      Neil Francis got himself sacked. He’s always been a gobsh*te tosser, but that was a special sort of comment.

    • Jock in Paddyland on

      A great result and just what that racist, homophobic, bigoted waste of space Francis deserves. Lousy journalist as well of course.

    • Cannae be bothered on

      More than rumours, breaking news on the BBC. Hugh for the Scots with 4 in the starting 15.
      Mon the boys!

      • FF on

        Great for Sutherland. Bit edgy for the Lions though. Don’t fancy Mako v Malherbe in 2nd half much. The best you can say for it is Mako and Sinclair at least know each other well so perhaps that will help…it’s a concern. Hopefully by that point Lions have a firm grip of the game.

    • Fraser on

      Great for Sutherland – would definitely rather have Jones on the bench than Vunipola though….

      Wonder what odds you would have got on 4 Scots in the starting 15 a year ago?

  22. Alanyst on

    This is our boys “give me a chance and I’ll show you” moment. Hoping they all do well otherwise it’s back to “show me and I’ll give you a chance”.

  23. Neil on

    Curry is a penalty machine, get him off for Watson Asap. 3 penalties in the first 16 minutes is unacceptable.

  24. Not science on

    Price, Itoje, Duhan, Watson looking good. Daley, Biggar, Cowan Dickie, Henshaw looking suspect. Other anon, except Currie who looks great and a liability (Barclay by another name). You like to put on a Russell, Watson and Aki.

    • Fraser on

      What great things has Curry done? Not seen him make any particular ruck impact/turnovers or done much around the park.

      Genuine question – maybe I missed something.

      • Not science on

        He’s always an option makes ground and is combative – at least two of the Itoje turnovers he’s been there helping

  25. Fraser on

    Half time

    SA all over us up front – not been a decent platform going forward.
    Really need to step up the physicality.
    Lineout not firing – LCD maybe needs taken off soon.
    Scrums about 50/50 as far as I can tell.

    Neither set of backs has done a huge amount, couple of half chances, hope it opens up a bit in the second half.

    Sutherland – made a few good contributions at ruck/tackle, maybe unlucky with a couple of scrum penalties.
    Price – one of the standouts for me, good delivery, great take of a kick, good support lines.
    VDM – looked really up for it early on, hasn’t seen much ball after that.
    Hogg – 1 dropped kick, otherwise decent but hasn’t had much to work with.

    Itoje been good, Conan had 1 break but a bit invisible otherwise.
    Curry not been great, Daly poor.
    Watson looks sharp.

    Would have liked to see a couple of penalties put in the corner – bit too conservative kicking for points on the edge of range or out very wide. Need to play their own game.

    Think the subs will be key but need to close the gap first.

    Referee making some odd decisions (both ways).

    • Not science on

      Price is a revelation, back to when he was breaking through, looks lighter quicker sharper and had perfected his kicks. Only a win for Scotland.

  26. Fraser on

    Second half a different animal.
    Forwards on top, much better physicality.
    Good control – Itoje MOTM for me, Price right up there.

    Great win, but I think there will be a few changes next week.
    Sutherland might go out of the 23 completely, just didn’t do enough.
    LCD I think would be better off the bench.
    Surely Harris in for Daly.
    Maybe swap Curry and Watson for the next one.
    Still think Beirne deserves a start although Lawes did have a very good game.
    Conan will be dropped I’m fairly sure.
    Price should definitely keep the 9 shirt.
    Back 3 I would keep the same as well, defence was generally very solid out wide.

    Would love to see Russell back (and may be if Biggar has failed the HIA) but suspect we might have to wait for the 3rd test and will be Biggar with Farrell on the bench again.

    • Fraser on

      On another note – surely SA going into tackles head first (in attack) is dangerous? The 12 dropped his head every time he got the ball.
      Lucky he doesn’t get a neck injury and also right into Biggars solar plexus when he got his head knock.

  27. Warks Scot on

    Wow, the Lions won the second half battle up front, aided by some more accurate tactical kicking. Lawes was awesome, definitely MotM IMO but second half started with a great kick by Price and Duhan was good on the chase and put in some big hits. Mish lucky not to get a yellow and Hoggy didn’t have a lot to work with though held up Mapimpi well. Scrum improved when Mako came on so not sure Sutherland will be in the next 23. Harris must be in with a shout now, Daly definitely had a poor game. Not a great spectacle but perhaps Scotland can learn a bit more about how to grind out a win….no wait, that’s what Gregor and Tandy have taught the Lions!!

  28. Sotonsaltire on

    Itoje and Lawes were very good. Vunipola did well and I agree Sutherland might be out of the 23. Watson did nothing but Curry was abysmal. Daly also very poor- might move Henshaw out one and play Farrell rather than play Harris. Will be close.

    Hogg did nothing. His gas looks gone. His time was probably 4 years ago.

    If Russell was fit he’d be in with a shout- there is not much creativity (but you would expect that with Gatland).

    • The Emperors New Clothes on

      Not the top Hogg in this side. Some very determined players out there. I hope he comes through , for many years he has been the carrier of scots hopes , shame to see him not at his best. 4 years ago there were some very on form players as well, Williams being 1.

    • SlowWalk90 on

      Way too early to be calling Hogg over the hill. He’s been great all year, a huge influence on Scotland in the six nations. He probably has a more rounded game than he did four years ago.

      The Lions definitely need Russell. Biggar was okay, but Farrell looks like he has completely lost the ability to play stand off at this level. All he does it kick it, and he’s terrible at it too.

  29. Saint4805 on

    Russell might start next week if he’s fit and Biggar is out after his HIA. I doubt they’d trust Farrell at 10. He nailed his penalty but his kicking and decision making at 10 was just awful.

    I’d switch Sutherland > Wyn Jones and keep Mako on the bench. Daly is surely out for Harris or they play Farrell at 12 and move Henshaw to 13. LCD’s darts were shaky in the first half and so he might not start next week and could be moved to the bench.

  30. JohnMc on

    Massive shout out to Mako Vunipola, who proved legions of doubters (myself included) wrong. He did so well holding his end up that the Saffer TH must have realised there was no point in even trying to con a scrum pen out of the ref.

    Itoje very good, but Lawes was outstanding and my MOTM.

    I sensed the Bok pack was beginning to tire in the final ten minutes of the first half. This surely triggered the early and as it turned out counter-productive front row substitutions.

    Price was good value, especially so when the Lions pack was on the back foot for much of the first half.

    Hogg was ok, as was VDM.

    Hamish Watson was very, very lucky not to get carded. Otherwise, decent in a resurgent pack and better than Curry who I think was just trying too hard and lost his composure.

    Agree with others that Sutherland had a bit of a mare and that it’s unlikely we’ll see him in the Test 23 again unless injury to others intervenes.

    Really powerful second half Lions performance, but some madcap passing and handling could still have lost the match.

    Daly had a bad day out there and, like Sutherland, I doubt we’ll see him in a red shirt again.

    Great stuff from the Lions from the kick-off in the second half. Thrilling to watch. Saffers will be in shock after this. Neither they nor their supporters could ever have imagined a 12-3 first half lead turning into a 19-5 second half deficit. They will be a bunch of berserkers in the second Test. Strap yourself in!

    Well done, B&I Lions!

  31. Warmer on

    Price and Duhan were not out of their league, far from it that must be a surprise for some . Lawes and Otoje were outstanding. Biggar very average. Henshaw , what a howler !
    Hogg put in a great kick to their 22, 2nd half. A win is a win, and now we all know how good they are in a real test.

    • RuggersB on

      Imo Duhan is total class…for someone pretty raw to test rugby. You can see the color of opponents shorts darkening as he approaches. Id have him in my world 15 on the wing ..let alone the lions. Price was ok didn’t look out of place…Murray probably a starter ahead of him though.
      Hogg wasn’t great…occasionally eratic…and poor pass that was fortunate not to become a critical try for SA.
      Finn Russell on form is a country mile above any other northern 10. Bigger? solid but not much else. Farrell same.
      Thought Eliot Daly was garbage…there are many better centres than him. Henshaw is a very good centre but to be honest Id give Harris a go.
      Sutherland didn’t have a good game..and might find himself out the 23.
      Itoje really has turned into probably the best lock in world rugby. Tom Curry for all the hype of being a world class 7 had a poor game.
      Hamish Watson did fine with the exception of that total brain fart of a tackle…very fortunate.

      • SlowWalk90 on

        A lot of good outside centres didn’t get on the plane… Ringrose, JD2, Jones, Slade.

        It seems strange that Daly started today, as its not a position that he’s had a lot of game time in.

  32. Neil on

    My team for 2nd Test:

    Stuart Hogg (C) – Josh Adams – Chris Harris – Robbie Henshaw – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Jack Conan – Hamish Watson – Tadhg Beirne – Courtney Lawes – Maro Itoje – Tadhg Furlong – Luke Cowan Dickie – Wyn Jones

    Anthony Watson – Owen Farrell – Connor Murray – Tom Curry – Alun Wyn Jones – Kyle Sinkler – Ken Owens – Mako Vunipola

    • TENC on

      Hogg passed to the floor to allow them to hack on for the De Alende disallowed try (71 min). Not really leading by example. I think you got that wrong.

      • Grant on

        Hogg passed to Farrell , who chose to let it past , for whoever he thought was next to take. If it had worked it would have been good , it didn’t and we were lucky to have a get out of jail free card handy

      • Fraser on

        I agree – that was more Farrell deciding not to go for the ball (that was a little in front of him but takeable) and risk a knock on, than Hogg throwing a wild pass.

    • Fraser on

      More or less like that lineup – would replace Conan (maybe Curry – now that would be an interesting back 5), and LCD swap to the bench, but otherwise would be interesting.

      Don’t think it will happen – maybe for the 3rd test you will see close to that lineup.

  33. Buddy on

    I think Biggar was a bit stifled tonight. He is predictable and the line never got going. I do not think Farrell will give us more , but he is an experienced, strong head. I think the second test is his jersey, just do simple things well and all that.

    • Saint4805 on

      Farrell was terrible after he moved to 10. He kicked his penalty and did nothing else. Bad kicking from hand and poor decision making. Finn to start if he’s fit. Can see space better than any of them and his fast flat passes are superior to Farrell’s and Biggar’s

      • W Warboyes on

        Farrell was good enough. That is what happens on a lions tour , you lose players to injury , it is never fancy , utility players are common, just one point is enough to win. Good to see so many scots in the mix.

      • Fraser on

        Farrell didn’t really do anything wrong so terrible is a bit much. He was obviously told to kick for territory to close the game out.

        Biggar I don’t think you can blame for the first half as the forwards were not giving him any platform.

        Obviously Russell would be much better at making something off back foot ball.

        If Biggar is fit I would still start him and if Russell is fit I would have him on the bench next week.

  34. RuggersB on

    another aspect of Duhan’s play is that he goes looking for the ball…he is not one of those lazy wingers that just waits for a well timed pass…he hunts. He doesn’t think twice about crashing in at the breakdown. Pretty refreshing wing play really. He isnt perfect…but at this rate…he will be one day.

    • Ewan on

      Absolutely. It’s not even just effort, it’s being all round good. He looks for work and is as effective as back row at the breakdown, is better than anyone gives him credit for under the high ball and is a total threat going forward. So pleased today for him.

  35. wingforward07 on

    The issue at 10 if Biggar injured: I love Russell, but how risky to throw him into the cauldron of this test environment with 1 and half games under his belt and injury. Option off the bench at best IMHO.

    • Fraser on

      The argument is – if you put a recently injured player on the bench and they come on and get injured again you are stuffed. If they start and get injured at least you can replace them.

      If there is any doubt he isn’t 100% he shouldn’t play at all.

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