The British and Irish Lions produced a superb second-half performance to overcome a nine point deficit at half-time to win the first Test against South Africa 22-17.
Handre Pollard’s boot punished the ill-discipline of Warren Gatland’s side early on, but Luke Cowan-Dickie scored the first try of the match just four minutes after the break.
Sportsmail’s Mike Brown rated the players as the Lions drew first blood in the series.
The Lions drew first blood in the series with a battling 22-17 win in opener against South Africa
The Boks took control early on due to Lions ill-discipline but second-half response was strong
JACQUES NIENABER – 6.5
South Africa controlled the game the game in the first half but then tired in the second, which may become a theme after their Covid problems. Their centres and wingers are dangerous, so they need to get them on the ball more – especially Cheslin Kolbe.
15 WILLIE LE ROX – 7
Brilliant chemistry with Pollard, with the skills of a No 10, working as a second distributor and as the fly-half’s extra eyes and ears but with the speed and step of an outside back. Great last-ditch tackle on Henshaw before half-time. Unlucky to have his try disallowed.
14 CHESLIN KOLBE – 6
Good in the air, especially as he is only 5ft 7in – but did not touch the ball for an hour, so was well shut out by the Lions. None of the usual flashiness, but chased like a mad-man and did his job well.
13 LUKHANYO AM – 6
Bone-crunching hit on Daly in the first half set the tone but was stifled in attack – making just one carry and only making two thirds of his tackles in defence too.
Cheslin Kolbe was good in the air, especially as he is only 5ft 7in – but did not touch the ball for an hour
12 DAMIAN DE ALLENDE – 6.5
He and de Allende know each other inside out as one of the experienced combinations in the Boks team – in stark contrast to the unfamiliar Lions who had hardly played together. Carried hard 13 times, making 38 powerful metres.
11 MAKAZOLE MAPIMPI – 6
He and Kolbe were very quiet – with Mapimpi only making one carry – but he hit a smart and well executed kick down the line and de Klerk’s try.
10 HANDRE POLLARD – 6.5
Plays in the Saracens mould, of squeezing the life out of teams. Hit all of his goals and managed the game well, but then cramped up and was forced off – possibly lacking match fitness after a year out injured before he contracted Covid recently.
9 FAF DE KLERK – 7
Kicked so well to find space in the back-field, and scored a try too. We used to get our replacement scrum-half to wear a blonde wig to replicate Faf in England training before South Africa games! The Lions will probably want to target him more in the second Test.
Faf de Klerk’s kicking was impressive throughout – the Lions need to target him more next time
1 OX NCHE – 8
Huge shoes to fill after The Beast Tendai Mtawarira retired, but had a great first-half against Furlong in the tight. Replaced by Kitshoff at half-time, as the Boks brought on their supposedly superior scrummagers.
2 BONGI MBONAMBI – 8
The Boks’ top scrummaging hooker was a menace up front, and is so physical in defence and attack, as South African dominated the first half scrummaging. Possibly he came off too early for Marx at half-time.
3 TREVOR NYAKANE – 8
Part of the short starting front-row and went for Sutherland in the scrum before he was taken off at half-time with the rest of the front-row.
4 EBEN ETZEBETH – 7.5
From my experience, you do not want to mess with him. Nasty lock – an absolute animal, who is their physical talisman. Smashed in the Lions all day.
Eben Etzebeth is an absolute animal and relished the chance to smash into the Lions all day
5 FRANCO MOSTERT – 6
The Boks front-five physically dominated the Lions in the first half, but visibly tired in the second. Mostert was solid, and the South African lineout was far tidier than Lions’.
6 SIYA KOLISI – 6.5
Emotional lightning rod for South Africa but they tired as the game went on, as his 10 days of Covid isolation started to catch up with him in the second half. The Boks are not good at chasing games – and it showed.
7 PIETER-STEPH DU TOIT – 7
Reigning world player of the year from 2019 was dominant in the tight exchanges of the first-half as the giant in the South African pack.
8 KWAGGA SMITH – 7
Former sevens star had a huge job to fill the shoes of Duane Vermuelen on only his second start at No 8 – he carried well, using his agility and speed.
Pieter-Steph du Toit was dominant in the early exchanges with a typically powerful display
WARREN GATLAND 7
I’m not sure his starting XV was the correct one, but he picked a bench to do a job and go them on at the right time. They bailed him out in the second half, especially in the front-row, where he might need a rethink next week. They need to win the physical and kicking battle next week.
15 STUART HOGG – 6.5
His link in the back-three with van der Merwe started weakly, as they left too much space in the back-field for kicks – and he didn’t get the chance to show his counter-attacking quality with South Africa’s brilliant kick-chase.
14 ANTHONY WATSON – 7
Had a huge job on his hands in the air and coped well, getting the Lions out of trouble with jinking runs under pressure. He will keep his place next week for sure.
13 ELLIOT DALY – 5
Let down early with his discipline – giving away two poor penalties – and was physically dominated by Am. Not the man for the style the Lions played and could lose his spot next week. Struggled defensively and missed a long penalty.
Daly is not the man for the Lions’ style of play and his spot in the side is now under threat
12 ROBBIE HENSHAW – 7
Good linebreak on half-time, but le Roux snuck up on him and dislodged the ball at the crucial moment. Carried well in the second-half to get the Lions over the gainline, and defended well having only played twice on tour.
11 DUHAN VAN DER MERWE – 6
Made more than 200 metres more than anyone with the ball-in-hand in the tour games but couldn’t get involved in the big carries enough. Chased kicks well, though.
10 DAN BIGGAR – 7
Statistically a better goal kicker through his career than Pollard – hitting 85 per cent – and recovered well after an early miss to hit three cool penalties. He kicked well off the tee and from hand, and distributed to space well once they got quick ball.
9 ALI PRICE – 7
It was vital he brought the tempo and once the Lions started winning collisions he got the ball away from the rucks well. He wasn’t protected well enough so he could snipe for metres himself though.
1 RORY SUTHERLAND – 4
Late replacement for injured Wyn Jones – and so the Boks targeted him straight away, as the Stormers did last week. He struggled in the scrum, before being replaced by Vunipola. I doubt he will play the second Test.
The Boks targeted Rory Sutherland and I doubt he will be selected to start in the second Test
2 LUKE COWAN-DICKIE – 5.5
Struggled early in the lineout with three poor throws, and was disappointing despite backing himself to throw to the back and then join the maul to score his try after half-time.
3 TADHG FURLONG – 6.5
Quietly went about his business, and grew into the game, especially after the shorter South African props went off. Sinckler and Vunipola were excellent off the bench after he set the platform.
4 MARO ITOJE – 8
Dominated physically by Etzebeth, but then stamped his authority on the game. Won two brilliant turnovers when counter-rucking and jackalling. A nuisance as always and made a couple of strips in the tackle too on his fourth consecutive Lions Test. Man of the match.
Maro Itoje was the man of the match after a stunning display of counter-rucking and jackalling
5 ALUN WYN JONES – 7.5
Very quiet first half but bold call to kick for the corner which set up Cowan-Dickie’s try was a brave shout but it turned the game – that is why Gatland had him straight back in the team, for the big leadership moments. Playing 80 minutes three weeks after dislocating his shoulder is remarkable.
6 COURTNEY LAWES – 8
So chilled it is crazy – when I roomed with him he was either sleeping, gaming or eating room service! Never fazed when it was going against the Lions, and then was immense after half-time, carrying, breaking the line and then was excellent in the lineout.
Courtney Lawes was immense after half-time, carrying, breaking the line and in the lineout
7 TOM CURRY – 6
Poor early discipline when conceding two penalties, echoing England in the Six Nations, and struggled to sort out the mess at the breakdown for the Lions.
8 JACK CONAN – 7
Carried for 45 metres from 12 carries as he went about the unfashionable jobs from No 8. It will still be such a tight call for Gatland to pick him or Taulupe Faletau next week.