Steyn kicks Boks to Lions series glory again

Morne Steyn slotted a late penalty to help the Springboks claim a famous 19-16 victory in the third Test over the British & Irish Lions to win the series 2-1.

Matchflow: Despite a bright start from the Springboks, it was the Lions who had much the better of the first half. This had plenty to do with what initially appeared to be a blow for the tourists, when Dan Biggar went off injured in the 11th minute.

However, Finn Russell was simply superb as his replacement. Despite coming back from injury, Russell sped the game up and the Boks struggled to adapt, giving away numerous penalties under pressure. The Lions created opportunity after opportunity, taking one of them when Ken Owens scored from a driving maul.

It was also key that the Lions deprived the Springboks any sort of set piece. When the Springboks did get a lineout, the Lions did well to disrupt the ball that Cobus Reinach was getting.

Vitally for the Springboks, thanks to some excellent defensive work from the likes of Damian de Allende and Siya Kolisi, they were able to go into the break just four points behind. 

The Springboks came out firing in the second half, camping in Lions territory and winning a few penalties. However, Pollard missed two attempts which, if both converted, would have put the hosts ahead.

A big blow was laid when, from a Lions box kick, the Boks managed to release Cheslin Kolbe, with the wing beating two defenders on his way to the tryline. 

Russell levelled the scores at 13-13 with a long-range penalty from just over the halfway line, with 20 minutes left to play. Morne Steyn came off the bench and nailed his first penalty to put the Boks ahead again.

In the final five minutes, Russell kept up his perfect day off the tee to level the scores again.

However, 12 years after he proved the match-winner in the 2009 series, Steyn did it again, slotting a penalty with a minute to go on the clock.

The Springboks still had to defend as the Lions won the ball back from the kick-off. They managed to force a scrum and the front row of Malcolm Marx, Vincent Koch and Trevor Nyakane won a penalty to allow Steyn to hoof the ball into touch and win the series.

Turning points: The Lions certainly had the better of the Springboks, but will be wondering what could have been had they taken their opportunities or gone for goal, instead of the lineout.

Kolbe’s second-half try certainly proved pivotal, as the Springboks enjoyed better territory and possession, but were struggling to get any rewards, with Pollard missing two penalties in a row.

In what proved to be a tactical masterstroke, the Bok coaches made the brave call to substitute Pollard with Steyn, with 20 minutes left to play. Steyn more than rewarded that call, holding his nerve to slot both his penalties.

Players who shone: Bok captain Kolisi had another barnstorming match, making tackle after tackle and hitting breakdown after breakdown. The same can be said of Franco Mostert, who more than filled the injured Pieter-Steph du Toit’s boots.

When he did get the ball, Cheslin Kolbe looked deadly and deservedly ended his 16-game tryless streak with his superb try.

The replacement front row of Marx, Nyakane and Koch did the business once again, winning a crucial penalty when the Boks were under pressure near their own tryline and again in the final minute of play.

Of course, Morne Steyn stands out. As he did 12 years ago, he had the crucial say in the series.

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Dylan Jack