South Africa A 17 - 13 British and Irish Lions
South Africa A managed to hold of a second half fightback from the British and Irish Lions as they sealed a thrilling 17-13 win at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.
This was the first defeat for the Lions in the ongoing campaign and it came from a South Africa A matchday squad that had 16 players from the Springboks World Cup winning tournament in 2019.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland made two late changes before the game with Liam Williams coming in place of Josh Adams while Owen Farrell retuned at fly-half replacing Dan Biggar, who had an ankle injury.
South Africa A side looked threatening from the start when Sbu Nkosi pressed forward in the 5th minute but a tackle from Anthony Watson forced him to touch preventing a certain try. Nevertheless, they were still the first team to open their account as Morne Steyn kicked a penalty in front of the posts in the sixth minute to make it 3-0.
The opening try of the game came in the 13th minute when Eben Etzebeth charged down Farrell and Damien de Allende recovered the ball and allowed Nkosi to touchdown and Steyn got the conversion right as South Africa A extended their lead to 10-0.
The visitors finally managed to get their opening points in the 28th minute through a penalty kick from Farrell after Etzebeth was penalised for not rolling away but South Africa A side went on to score their second try just over half-hour mark with this time Cheslin Kolbe showing his class beating Chris Harris and Rees-Zammit to offload to skipper Lukhanyo Am, who dotted down and Steyn's conversion making it 17-3.
The home side though lost momentum at the end of the opening half as they were down to 13-men temporarily with Faf de Klerk and Marco van Staden sin-binned in a span of two minutes for not using his arms in the tackle and repeated infringements respectively.
The Lions made use of the numerical advantage straightaway into the second half with Wyn Jones diving over from close range for his first try for the tourists and Farrell conversion reduced the arrears to seven points.
Just as de Klerk returned from sin-bin, Farrell with a penalty kick from near the halfway line in the 45th minute helped the Lions reduce the gap to four points. By the 56th minute England's Watson was forced off the field after injuring his ankle following a tackle from Rynhardt Elstadt. The Lions were denied their second try following a TMO consultation as Rees-Zammit played the ball on the ground after the Lions had worked an attack through 13 phases.
A 74th minute drop goal attempt from Steyn went wide but it did not cost them as South Africa A handed the Lions their first defeat of the tour.
Team line up:
South Africa 'A': 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Faf de Klerk; 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Joseph Dweba, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert, 6 Marco van Staden, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Jasper Wiese.
Reserves: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Damian Willemse.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Conor Murray (c); 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 Josh Navidi, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Reserves:: 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.