Planet Rugby

Lions conquer soggy Cape Town

13th June 2009 13:26

Share:

tommy Bowe try v WP

Early breakthrough: Tommy Bowe scores the Lions' first

The British & Irish Lions retained their 100 per cent record on Saturday with a 26-23 win over Western Province in squally Cape Town.

he local met men had predicted thunderstorms, an end to the lovely sunny weather Cape Town had been basking in all week. In the event, the storms arrived overnight on the Friday, ushering in one of those vile cold fronts that plague the Western Cape on a weekly basis during the winter.

It rained a torrent shortly before kick-off, with the wind whipping the spray in all directions as it funnelled over the mountain behind the stadium. An ugly, ugly day, leading to an ugly, ugly game, but at least the locals turned up for this one, with Newlands about three-quarters full. There were quite a few Lions fans there as well, trying to sneak in a quick match before the Test series. they'll be wondering why they bothered.

Stats were not available, but surely the first 15 minutes contained more kicks than any other match in rugby union history. There is a popular game in South Africa known as gainers, a competition between teams of one or more across a pitch where you try to out-kick your opponent down the length of a rugby field. For the opening quarter of an hour, Rob Kearney and Joe Pietersen played exactly that.

Pietersen probably shaded the duel by a whisker, but the transgressions of his team-mates with their positioning meant that at the end of that period, the Lions led two penalties to one, courtesy of Stephen Jones out-goaling Willem de Waal - also no stranger to territorial kicking for the sake of it.

Finally the Lions went through a few phases shortly after Jones' second, but it was ineffective stuff, yielding little more than three yards of gain followed by a Province penalty. De Waal booted it to touch, then from the line-out, booted a smart drop goal to level things.

The locals benefitted from an appalling decision by Mark Lawrence after 26 minutes, when Tonderai Chavhanga was clearly holding onto the ball on the ground under pressure from Ugo Monye but the Lions was penalised for going off his feet.

De Waal opted for a line-out in the corner, but after a succession of drives the home attack got cold feet and opted to flip it back to Joe Pietersen for another drop goal.

Finally, after a half hour that left the soul as cold as the icy feet and hands in the north-westerly wind, the Lions produced a couple of moments of quality that set them apart.

First a handling movement that spanned half the pitch, sparked by Andy Powell and involving Harry Ellis, Martyn Williams, Stephen Jones and Keith Earls, was finished off by Tommy Bowe with a jink, a burst and a swivel over the line.

Then Bowe came off his wing - not for the first time this tour - and found a gap through the middle, finishing that off with a flip pass out of the tackle to Monye in the corner.

Jones converted the second kick for an 18-9 lead, but De Waal reduced the arrears to six with his second penalty just after the half-time hooter.

The Lions came out with far more intent in the second half, with Ellis making inroads around the fringes and creating more space for Jones to set things going. There was less kicking and more construction with the wealth of possession kicked to them from Provincial boots.

A crossfield kick to Bowe, followed by a break from Jones at the next phase, gave good attacking position for the Lions, seven precise phases of driving later Williams peeled of the back of a ruck and crashed over for the Lions' third.

Again, a penalty that seemed less real-time deed and more indulgence of Luke Watson's plaintive bleating brought Province back into affairs at 18-23, but there was nothing for the Lions to moan about when Joe Pietersen slid into the corner after 63 minutes, exploiting the gap left by Bowe charging up in defence. De Waal's conversion was an atom to the right, leaving it handily poised at 23-apiece.

Province kicked and kicked and kicked, praying for that crucial error while all the time giving their guests a 70m target to run at rather than a 20m one. The Lions simply could not find the momentum to get forward enough, nor a gap in the chasing blue and white shirts to get through.

But they got their pivotal moment, when JD Moller brought down a scrum and James Hook stepped up to land a penalty from 40m. An ugly way to win, but when the opposition presents itself so, what else are you supposed to do. This was a tough test for the Lions, one they have once more passed on another step to a series that is building superbly.

Man of the match: The one player who stood out for not using the boot too much and presenting perpetual class was Tommy Bowe, while mixing the ugly stuff with the best of them were Phil Vickery and Nathan Hines, with a phenomenal work-rate.

The scorers:

For Western Province:

Try: Pietersen

Pens: De Waal 4

Drop goals: de Waal, Pietersen

For the Lions:

Tries: Bowe, Monye, Williams

Con: Jones

Pens: Jones 2, Hook

Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Morgan Newman, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Gcobani Bobo, 10 Willem De Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 Anton Van Zyl, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.

Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 JD Moller, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Zandre Jordaan, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 JJ Engelbrecht, 22 Gio Aplon.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Harry Ellis, 8 Andy Powell, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Phil Vickery (capt), 2 Mathew Rees, 1 Andrew Sheridan.

Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Euan Murray, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Mike Blair, 21 James Hook, 22 Gordan D'Arcy.

Referee: Mark Lawrence

Assistant referee: Wayne Barnes (England), Cobus Wessels

Television match official: Shaun Veldsman

Assessor: Dennis Immelman

Timekeeper: Paul Ackermann

By Danny Stephens in Cape Town

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, October 1
Hawkes Bay 36 - 14 WellingtonHawkes Bay vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411