IsiZulu sami sibi.
Well here we are for match 2 of 3 of the series to be played out at Cape Town. The Lions have won all six of their starts so far on tour and look to continue the trend here today and secure the series.
With Gatland picking from the enviable position of winning the first test for only the fourth time in the 12 Lions vs Sth Africa series to-date, Chris Harris, Conor Murray and Mako Vunipola come in to the starting XV for the Lions. In comparison for the Bokke, Leicester’s Jasper Wiese takes over from Kwagga Smith at No 8, and my favourite red-head scrummager Kits-off comes in at tighthead with Vinny “Mr Incredible” Kock on the bench for the injured Ox Nche with Frans Malherbe into the starting line-up on the loosehead side ahead of Trevor Nyakane, who is dropped to the bench.
To be frank, here on the Cape of Good Hope everyone keeps talking up ‘the bomb squad’ and kicks kicks kicks. How exciting…
Whilst waiting for the pre-game graphics to end, I’ll tackle the elephant in the room and Rassie’s irascible badgering of Referee Aussie Nic Berry and Marius Jonkers in the box after the 1st test (and of-course leaning into Kiwi Benny O’Keefe on the field and Marius Jonkers up in the box this week). I for one think Rassie’s form was disgraceful. Throughout the week the Japies were trying to justify the indefensible with much ‘whataboutism’ palaver regarding Gatland’s comments on Rassie the Waterboy and Faf’s penchant for high tackles. But bloody hell, most-fair minded folk would think there is a lot of distance between some half-jokes in a press-conference to launching a +60min blatantly one-sided YouTube character assassination in another. And by a Springbok Office Bearer at that. This was only continued by the garbage I heard from Nick Mallett in the pre-game saying the Lions have a clear unfair advantage because the Bokke will miss out on the traditionally unfair home-side penalty count (because of no crowd in the stadium). WTF?!? That was truly baffling to try and make sense of. Let’s be clear – Mallett says the Lions have an unfair advantage because the Refereeing will be demonstrably less biased? Yeh… Ok… ubuchopho obuphekiwe.
Umdonsiswano wamazwi: With a sunny 17* and a barely noticeable 7km cross-wind, Bokke10 Pollard nudged a familiar No2 kick which, whilst messy, was secured and boxed-back by Lions No9 Connor Murray. Secured by the Bokke, we see midfield Bokke runners bashing the short-side under penalty advantage for 2 or3 rucks until the advantage was called, the lineout was sought and a Bokke throw on about the Qtr resulted. A clean Etzebeth lineout win could not be exploited and the Lions handled well to force the whistle. A minute or two of handbags was not much to talk about but the resulting scrum call certainly was with O’Keefe deciding the Bokke uncleared maul somehow wasn’t a turn-over to the Lions but an ‘unplayable’ and so gave the feed to the Bokke?!?!? Rassie rewarded?! The Bokke were double-rewarded when the scrum was promptly blown with a short-arm for early Lions engage. Surprisingly the Bokke went to a quick-tap and midst the pounding, Lions3 Furlong was called for offside and unsurprisingly Pollard took 3pts from dead in-front. 3-0 Bokke at 4.15min.
The Lions kick-off was a No2 slightly deeper and boxed-back by Faf for a Lions ruck on the halfway. Lions10 Bigger ran but a strong tackle and ruck turnover saw Faf try to box again to force the Lions inside their own half. But Bokke MyPimpy tackled Biggar in the air as Fafs box came down around the Lions 10m (just) and the resulting Lions penalty drew a Lions lineout on the Bokke Qtr. A clean Lawes win at the front saw successive Lions midfield bashes for Bigger to bomb to the corner and Pollard spilt the skittles to draw a Lions scrum on the 5x15metres mark. Scrum2 saw the Bokke go left shoulder up but the Lions retained the ball and went to midfield pounding until Bokke8 Wiese was penalised for a ‘no shoulder tackle’ and Biggar popped over 3pts from in-front. 3-3 at 10.11min.
A more centred Bokke kick-off to the Qtr was well pressured by MyPimpy for the Bokke and the turnover saw midfield bashing by the Bokke resulting. Good Pollard>DuToit>Kolbe work for the 2nd time on the Bokke right ensued, but overall the Bokke runners were going no-where against a solid Lions midfield defence. This solidity clearly influenced a bit of a brainless Faf grubber and the Lions cleaned up and drew a ruck penalty to clear the pressure with a Lions lineout just short of their 10m. A clean Itoje win drew a penalty for Bokke collapsing the maul and the punt saw a Lions lineout just outside the Bokke Qtr line. I note a much better Lions lineout this week. The lineout led to heavy midfield forward running by the Lions and this tempted a Bokke offside just short of the Qtr just inside the 15m lineout line. Biggar took the shot and it’s 6-3 Lions at 16.30min.
The Bokke kick-off was well sorted by the Lions with a Murray box regather by LeRoux and so Pollard bombed back for Lions15 Hogg to take cleanly. But good Bokke flooding of the tackle drew an offside penalty as Lions forwards tried to recover. The 43m penalty shot from Pollard at 18.50min pulled left and a Lions drop-out resulted. Pushed long, the Bokke set-up was well spoilt by the Lions flooding the tackle and the turnover on halfway saw Murray box-kick to the Bokke 10m. Good Lions ruck pressure forced the turnover and the Lions continued the aerial attack with ANOTHER bomb to the Bokke qtr line. Somehow the messy gather and ruck saw a scrum feed given to the Lions and in the background Bokke gunman DuToit was replaced by Kwagga (busted shoulder) at 21min. A Bokke scrum penalty for Lions collapsing (Vunipola) was well-milked by Van DeMerhbe and saw a Bokke lineout resulted between the half & Lions 10m. Some subsequent midfield meandering saw Kolbe repeat last weeks rolling and crying on the ground after being tripped by Lions11 Duhan van der Merwe. Aside from the soccer-stuff, the ensuing yellow card was fair and the penalty on halfway saw Pollard punt to set-up a Bokke lineout to the Lions Qtr. However Lawes spoilt the Bokke lineout and Murray boxed. Pollard replied in-kind and handbags blew-up after Cry-Bok Kolbe took out Lions9 Murray in the air (no-doubt) just inside the Lions 10m. Straight-up the Cry-Bok Kolbe got a well-deserved yellow to equal the score as 1x yellow a-piece.
Both yellow-cards were deserved. But the best bit of the handbags was definitely Biggar’s dive directly in-front of O’Keefe after Bokke2 Bongi breathed in his direction. I would have binned him as I would have binned Jalonch. But seriously, some of the over-acting in all that was really shameful and I go back to Jalonch not being suspended and Rassie not being stomped-on for setting a very problematic precedent and landscape coming into this test and the future.
The Lions lineout win on the Bokke 10m was driven initially but broke down. Yet another Murray bomb only earnt a Bokke mark-catch in their own Qtr duly cleared back to the Bokke 10m (thereabouts). And so rinse repeat the Lions lineout. However the Lions lineout is far more reliable this week. Some good Lions midfield crashing resulted but chopping Bokke defence led to a frustrated Lions chip and the chance died with a lineout to the Bokke off the chip. A great Itoje steal (continuing his good form from last week) saw more promising Lions pounding on the Qtr. Compared to the now-firing Lions lineout, the Bokke lineout is suffering this week with 2x lost own-throws so far. But a tiny Lions knock-on shot the goose and only gave ball back to the Bokke on the Qtr.
The 29min Bokke-fed scrum was midway between Qtr & half and saw play carry to Lions 10m. A Lions off-side saw Bokke awarded a penalty 5m infield and Pollard duly took the 3pt shot rather than chance the spluttering Bokke lineout. After missing last time, the shot Pollard struck beautifully to make it 6-6 at 31min.
Lions kick-off to Qtr/15m was Faf-boxed and a quick Lions lineout saw the Lions suddenly pounding on the Bokke Qtr. A breakdown infringement by MyPimpy on the Qtr/15m gave the Lions a penalty which was kicked to touch. The Lions lineout on the 5m was spoilt by the Bokke Etzebeth but the Bokke were forced to ground in-goal so earning the Lions a 5m scrum. This is a big chance for the Lions here. Lions initially went blind (Faf shoulder charge advantage called) but pick & drive work worked back across to midfield and drew penalty advantage again from a Bongo no-arms tackle. A Murray chip under advantage saw what looked to be a clear Lions try. Subsequent TMO review of what I thought was now surely a clear Lions12 Henshaw try was declared no-try and so back for the Lions penalty. I have to say that was wrong from where I sat. That was a try in any other game as that ball touched grass. It looks like Rassie broadsides have hit pay-dirt. Anyways after the much TMO-ado, play went back to the penalty and Biggar duly nudged the 3pt penalty to make it 9-6 Lions at 36min.
Both yellow-cards are back on-field and the kick-off was initially well-challenged by Bokke. Midfield meandering and bombs went no-where until a knock-on was found to stop play with a Bokke scrum feed on the Bokke 10m line. A huge Lions scrum went unrewarded and the reset saw the ball eventually belted to touch by Faf after over 70min since time blew on and folk trundled off for oranges.
Isikhathi esigamu: At 9-6 Lions it must be said the Lions are justified to feel aggrieved after that half especially regarding the unawarded Henshaw try. However the blatant diving, niggling and general shitbaggery from both sides is really a sorry sight more akin to a European soccer game than anything else. Quite seriously, the diving and prancing and whinging is nothing short of embarrassing for the code and when put alongside the continuous bombing and fumbling, the spectacle of 40min play for 80min since time blew-on was bordering on shambolic. To my mind, Kiwi-Ben has clearly been influenced by the Rassie endeavors and the whole shebang is as unedifying as it is ungratifying.
For the match itself, the Lions are in the box-seat. They are executing better and with Farrell yet to come on and kick more, they are the one’s to lose it. The Bok are in-trouble but are getting the rub of the 50/50’s. With the Lions midfield defence proving much stronger than last week, the Bokke have no run-attacking answer/option after 2nd phase and their resulting kick-game is not generating the rewards of last week. Their execution is not there especially in the lineout and with DuToit gone they are in real strife. But again, they are getting the 50/50 calls so who knows…
Isikhathi sesibili: Lions10 Biggar’s kick-off was fielded on the Qtr and Faf-boxed back. A Lions15 Hogg fumble gave the Bokke a scrum feed on their own 10m/5m infield. No scrum replacements obvious at this time. Lions3 Furlong lost his bind on Kits-off and the penalty kick brought the Bokke a lineout outside the Lions Qtr. Have the Bokke fixed their lineout…? Bokke Etzebeth took a clean take and the drive up past the Qtr set a nice platform for a Pollard bomb (surprised?). Surprisingly the Bokke regathered and after some more midfield bashing, a well-spotted and plotted chip to wing by Pollard allowed MyPimpy to regather and bounce 10m to score a smart and most-unexpected ball in-hand try at 44.15min. Pollards conversion was wide and the score is 11-9 Bokke at 45min.
Now it’s all happening with a Bokke fumble from the kick-off immediately giving the Lions scrum platform 5m inside the Bokke Qtr. A terrible scrum was initially reset… the reset again… and about all we’re doing is chewing grass. 3rd time lucky saw a Lions short-arm, tap and the Lions pounding the Bokke Qtr with runners. After 3 or 4 phases a no-release penalty on Kwagga gave the Lions10 Biggar a shot from the Qtr line just inside the 5m line at 52min. An off-the-post miss was cleared by the Bokke and gave the Lions a lineout on halfway duly won by Itoje. The ubiquitous Murray box was answered by a Hollard bomb and thus came various indeterminate phases for the Lions just inside their own half. Another Murray box only drew a Bokke scrum feed just inside the Bokke half… bloody hell this is boring.
Anyway the 54min scrum saw a massive Bokke 2nd shove get short-armed to the Lions by O’Keefe for the 2nd effort after he called Faf to clear it. Technical but righto. The resulting Lions bomb (surprised?) went nowhere and the substitutions now start to flow prior to a Lions lineout on the Bokke 10m line. Some midfield Lions pounding was well defended particularly by DeAllende and so saw a resulting Biggar bomb which went nowhere and following a Lion being tumbled to touch, the Bokke earnt a lineout on their own 10m line thereabouts.
Bokke16 MadMarx had replaced No2 Bongi along the way and his first lineout throw immediately found Etzebeth and the Faf box found touch. On the flip side, on the Lions 10m, Lions16 FarKenOath took his first throw which was pinched by Bokke19 Lood JagerBomb. The ubiquitous Pollard bomb was taken and the resulting held-up maul was ruled ‘off the kick’ so the Lions retained the scrum feed halfway between 10m and Qtr in the Lions half. Short-arm to the Lions for an early Bokke shove saw Farrell test LeRoux with a bomb (surprised?) but an early touch on the catcher by the Lions chasers took the heat out of the situation with a long-arm penalty on the Bokke 10m line. This was driven to the Lions Qtr and Jager-Bomb won the lineout which was driven-on and infield to the Lions 5m. Playing under advantage, a crafty Bokke grubber by Faf found the gap and the touch-down was ruled as scored by Bokke13 Lukhanyo Am (I thought it was fumbled) at 60.30min.
Pollard’s kick was true and made the score 18-9 to the Bokke at 61min.
A deeper Lions kickoff, mutual bombing and subsequent fumbling went no-where until a clearance finally brought a Lions lineout just inside the Bokke half. FarKenOaths throw to the front found the mark but a knock-on in the lineout saw the Bokke sending crash runners into the Lions on about the halfway. The Lions lineout is disintegrating. Replacement Bokke No9 Herschel Jantjies boxed and so Farrell cleared back to the Bokke Qtr line.
The Ref is losing patience with all the play-acting and timewasting…
MadMarx found JagerBomb but Vunipola & Sutherland drove the side of the maul and gave the Bokke an easy exit penalty to the Lions 10m line. Another soft lineout penalty to the Bokke (driving lineout early by Lions) then yield a Bokke lineout btwn the Lions Qtr and 10m. A good MadMarx>Etzebeth lineout win saw DeAllende’s crash only get smothered back to the Lions 10m. Replacement scrum-half Jantjies box-kick drew a knock-on in the catch contest and a Bokke scrum-feed just outside the Lions Qtr was the outcome. Strong Trevor Nyakane work saw the Bokke scrum munch the Lions tight-side and draw the penalty. Bokke Pollard shot for 3pts from wide out just outside the Lions Qtr and made the score 21-9 Bokke at 71min.
It must be said it was somewhat amusing to see the Bokkes openly laughing now as Kylie Sinkler & Sutherland jog on whilst Bokke Captain Courageous Kolisi was replaced by Bokke20 Marco van Staden.
No2 Lions kickoff, box kicks, Lions crashing the Bokke 10m line… A nice Farrell ball to Faletau was brought undone by illegal Lions ruck entry trying to shift a strong MadMarx from over the ball and the relieving penalty to the Bokke was punted to a lineout on the Lions 10m line. MadMarx to Etzebeth lineout win again and the maul was driven messily to the Lions Qtr with the resulting box/bomb being ruled knock-on and scrum to Lions resulted. This scrum was ugly for the Lions. The drive everyone knew was coming with Sinkler & Sutherland on the field duly came and the resulting penalty saw Pollard nudge the 3pts with no-fuss to make the score 24-9 at 75.30min. The game was well over, but it was over at 60min to be fair.
The Bokke continued to strangle everything and the Lions were increasingly desperate but were only giving away successive penalties. It was a mess with multiple more delays for late & high shot TMO stuff. Blah blah blah.
A final Pollard shot for I don’t know what ( I was bored by then) at 80min on the dot made the final score 27-9 to the Bokke and so it ended.
Iqhawe lokuqala: folk paid to know better than I gave the gong to Macca MyPimpy and it’s true he had a bloody strong game duly rewarded by the kick-pass try off Pollard. For the second week running Itoje had a huge game as did Lawes. However for me I give it to Pollard. The guy nudged straight and true all day long (nearly) and his calmness under what must be phenomenal pressure (especially off-field) is noteworthy.
Hlanza: So the series is still alive at one victory a-piece and it comes down to a decisive 3rd test. The Lions were more cohesive than last week I felt, and certainly the Itoje and Lawes defensive lineout was terrorising the Bokke in the first half. But the Bokke intensity and (to my mind) the 50/50 Ref calls all went the Bokke way. The Lions12 Henshaw no-try call was wrong as-was the awarded Bokke13 Luke Am try also wrong and a 14pt turnaround in a match of that intensity are shatteringly big calls. However the Lions went to water in the 2nd half most notably with their scrum and lineout disintegrating.
However for me there is no joy in this match or series now because I can’t help but think Rassie shameless shot at referee-influencing was rewarded in the facta-non-verba outcome. And that disgrace was only multiplied by the successive divings, whingings and cryings all over the park by players on both sides (to be fair, it wasn’t only the Bokke carrying on with Bovine Excremental activities, but nonetheless Cry-Bokke Kolbe deserves a special mention for two-weeks in a row of shitbaggery). For an 80min match to take 3.5hrs to play is more akin to NFL than rugby and points to something deeply awry in our game at a fundamental level for that to be permitted to happen.
Anyways… Lalani kahle! Sizobonana!