Lions triumph at last
Williams and Monye touch down as whitewash is avoided in style
Last Updated: 04/07/09 8:01pm
Tryscorers: Shane Williams and Ugo Monye
The British and Irish Lions have beaten South Africa 28-9 in Johannesburg to record their first Test victory in eight years.
The result at Ellis Park - eight years also being the period since the home side last tasted defeat there - came too late to avoid a series defeat but it does mean the Lions have avoided their first whitewash against the Springboks.
It was also as deserved as the scoreline suggests, with Shane Williams returning to form in fine style with two first-half tries, while Ugo Monye made up for his first Test disappointment with a fine interception score in the second period.
And, making his final appearance in a Lions shirt, Phil Vickery also issued a riposte after his performance in Durban - the Lions proving as authoritative in the scrum as they were expansive in the loose.
Both facets were apparent in the opening minutes, with the Lions showing great hands as they seized the early initiative. They earned a penalty in the third minute but Stephen Jones pulled his kick wide of the posts.
Their scrum earned a penalty six minutes later - Chiliboy Ralepelle proving the weak link - with Jones this time converting. However, the Lions' lead lasted only two minutes, with Morne Steyn equalising after Jamie Heaslip conceded a penalty for not releasing.
The much-changed Springboks had to wait until the 23rd minute before, inspired by Wynand Olivier, they finally managed to put a few meaningful phases of their own together. Winger Odwa Ndungane almost crossed in the left-hand corner but the Lions managed to turn the ball over before Mike Phillips cleared.
Two minutes later came Williams' first try, the Welsh winger being fed by Heaslip after the forward broke clear and charged down the left-hand flank. However, Jones could not convert after the ball fell off the kicking tee.
Heaslip then had to intervene to stop another quick response from the Boks - a quick scrum orchestrated by Fourie du Preez freeing Ndungane down the right-hand flank before his offload was intercepted by the number eight.
That the Lions were playing with confidence was amply demonstrated on the half-hour when inspired interplay on the blindside between Riki Flutey, Williams, Tommy Bowe, Rob Kearney and Williams again ended with the winger chipping through, albeit to no-one in particular.
Williams scored again though following a turnover in the 33rd minute and had Flutey to thank after the centre ran on to his own chip and then palmed it back in his team-mate's direction when faced with full-back Zane Kirchner - Jones this time converting.
However, Simon Shaw was then sin-binned after clattering into the prone du Preez with his knees. The second row was missed when, following a penalty, the Boks kicked for the corner and easily won a lineout but the Lions escaped after subsequently winning a penalty of their own.
Morne Steyn found the posts with the final kick of the half but that was all the home side could do to exploit the extra man.
Indeed, the Lions continued in the same fashion at the start of the second period, their attempts to turn defence into attack in Shaw's absence appearing set for the jackpot until Andrew Sheridan was penalised for not releasing right in front of the Springboks' posts.
Shaw rejoined the fray and the Lions continued their search for a third try. It came in the 54th minute after a period of Springbok pressure that almost brought their first - Ruan Pienaar breaking through the centre before Ndungane fumbled Kirchner's offload on the line.
With the Boks still pressing, Olivier's pass to Kirchner was instead intercepted by Monye and the winger then proceeded to sprint 70 metres down the pitch to touch down, with Jones converting.
Kearney's confidence was such that he attempted - unsuccessfully - a penalty from his own half just past the hour before Francois Steyn showboated in vain with a drop goal attempt from even further out moments later.
Morne Steyn showed them both how to do it with a penalty in the 67th minute, with the Lions entering the closing 10 minutes once more on the offensive as Phillips chased in vain to score after Ndungane's attempted clearance was charged down.
Tempers boiled over when Phillips then tried to prevent Francois Steyn from clearing and Heinrich Brussow controversially conceded a penalty - converted by Jones - for pulling the scrum-half to the floor by his jersey.
The number 10 then kicked another in the 72nd minute to equal the Lions' highest-ever score against the Springboks in a Test match, a feat which almost vanished when Ndungane crossed in the right-hand corner late on - the video referee, however, deciding he had placed a foot in touch.