THE dust had hardly settled on last week’s first Test before a consensus emerged. In Britain and Ireland at least – in fact, perhaps everywhere apart from South Africa – the agreement was that in the end the Lions had been superior by some margin to the Springboks.
Yes, they had been shaky on several fronts in the first half – the early scrums, the lineout, the discipline – and deserved to go in at the break 12-3 down. But long before full-time they had come to dominate the set piece, proved that they had greater stamina, and had a better bench too. OhThe past month, as well as high blood pressure and tinnitus., and head coach Warren Gatland had won the psychological battle hands down, above all in the way the tourists had put pressure on the Television Match Official, South African Marius Jonker, by expressing disquiet at his appointment to a position usually occupied by a neutral.
Much of that may well be true, but the fact remains that the Lions only won 22-17 in a game which went down to the last play. For a team that supposedly ran out of puff, the Springboks still had a chance at the death to level the score with a try, to win it with a conversion. And if they were that close last week after being short of match practice, there is surely a fair chance that they will be even closer, when the teams meet again at the Cape Town Stadium with the best-of-three series on the line. RELATED: 'Disgraceful': SNP slam Douglas Ross after attack on Scottish Govt Brexit video