South Africa 19 British and Irish Lions 16
WORLD champions South Africa won the crucial third test thanks to a last-minute Morne Steyn penalty to secure the Lions series 2-1 at Cape Town on Saturday.
South African No. 10 Handre Pollard opened the scoring for South Africa in the 11th minute with a penalty from 30m, with the main news, at the moment he struck the kick, being that his opposite number Dan Biggar was being helped to the touchline, clearly unable to continue, to be replaced by the mercurial Scottish out-half Finn Russell.
Biggar had actually missed a third-minute penalty, but Russell stepped straight in and slotted a penalty that the Lions had won at scrum time, to level proceedings in the 16th minute.
Only two minutes later the Lions won another penalty but this time they went for broke in the corner, and they were duly rewarded when their maul completely dismantled the Springboks pack, with hooker Ken Owens crashing over for the crucial opening try.
In the 28th minute, the Lions looked to be on the verge of scoring an almost identical try from a maul in the left corner but they got blown by French referee Mathieu Raynal for an infringement and South Africa were let off the hook.
The Lions had been the better side for large portions of the first half but the Boks managed to win a scrum penalty of their own in the 36th minute and Pollard again did the needy from the kicking tee to reduce the arrears to 6-10.
The Lions then went for a big power play just before halftime but despite big carries from Jack Conan and Tadhg Furlong they ended up coming away with nothing thanks to a wonderful jackal on the floor from South African captain Siya Kolisi, as the Lions led by four at the break.
Lions openside Tom Curry was penalised for not rolling away in the 46th minute but Pollard failed to capitalise, as his penalty attempt struck the upright, and he missed another in the 53rd minute as the world champions failed to capitalise on their early second-half dominance.
The brilliant South African right-winger Cheslin Kolbe had been extremely quiet in the Series to date but in the 56th minute, he finally stamped his authority on proceedings.
A high kick went loose and was gathered by South African centre Lukhanyo Am just inside his own half. He fed full-back Willie le Roux on his blindside who duly fed Kolbe on the right. The Toulouse man had lots to do though, as he fended off two attempted tackles from Liam Williams and Luke Cowan-Dickie to dot the ball down in the right corner, and Pollard was able to add the extras from the touchline to give the Boks a three-point lead.
To their credit, the Lions responded brilliantly to the setback with Russell kicking a monster 63rd-minute penalty to make it 13-13, and the Series was suddenly going right to the wire.
South Africa then brought on Morne Steyn, who had kicked the penalty that had won the Lions Series way back in 2009, and within two minutes metronomic Morne had worked his magic, as he sliced a 40m penalty effort straight between the posts to regain the lead.
The Lions then turned down a simple penalty opportunity in the 69th minute and backed themselves to go to the corner, but they were held up over the line after a big drive. When they were penalised at the resulting scrum the opportunity seemed gone, but a quick turnover followed by a huge burst up the middle by Robbie Henshaw gave them another penalty deep in South African territory and this time they made the correct call, as Russell slotted a 75th-minute penalty to level matters once more.
However, the Lions infringed once more in their own half and history repeated itself with Steyn splitting the posts again in the 79th minute to give the Springboks the Series.