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'It's brutal, it's ruthless': Anguished TV verdict on Lions loss

By Liam Heagney

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Ex-Lions boss Ian McGeechan and 2009 tour out-half Ronan O’Gara have bemoaned how Warren Gatland’s tourists were defeated 19-16 in the deciding third Test series decider versus the Springboks in Cape Town. Both blasts from the Lions past were doing punditry on the match for Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland and they were left dumbstruck that the winning South African kick came from a late Morne Steyn penalty just as it did twelve years ago when the Springboks clinch the previous series versus the Lions.   

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McGeechan said: “To me, it is a big missed opportunity. The Lions were much the better side today. Missed their opportunities in that first half, could have been ten or twelve points clear, and they had to keep playing. I would have liked to have maybe seen them kick a couple of more penalties but the quality of the rugby today was so different to what had been there before and it created the opportunities and for the first time South Africa were left wondering about what they were doing.

“Finn Russell coming on was very important. He had a big say in almost the win. It won’t be an easy dressing room to walk into and I never thought I would be looking at the same circumstances again two tours to South Africa on the trot. I know what those players and coaches will feel. It’s a tough, tough place to be.”

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It was current La Rochelle boss O’Gara who conceded the penalty that allowed Steyn to strike the 2009 winner in Pretoria and he admitted he was left admiring the ability of the Springboks to find a way to win again versus the Lions. “I don’t think anyone anywhere near had the colossal mess-up I had (in 2009),” he said.

“From a team point of view, they [the Lions] will be very disappointed. It’s brutal, it’s ruthless this level of sport because the higher you go the margins get smaller and smaller and that is what we see. There are tiny little things.

“I agree with Ian in the fact that the boys in red will have regrets because there were probably two chances to win the series. In the first Test, they did the business and then the first 40 minutes of the second Test they had the foot on the throat and they didn’t kill off South Africa. And you look at today it probably came down to Liam Williams hitting Josh Adams or Duhan van der Merwe outside him to score and those decisions cost you. 

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“In cup rugby, it is imperative you take your points. It’s easy on the couch but it’s not easy when your heartbeat is going up 200 beats a minute but that is what composure is. You have to give huge credit to South Africa in the fact that great teams find a way to win. It may not be pretty to some people but at times today when their scrum was needed, their maul was needed and what is completely underappreciated is when you have got a genius like Kolbe it matters.”

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'It's brutal, it's ruthless': Anguished TV verdict on Lions loss

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