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Lions fight back to beat Cardiff and make it back-to-back wins in Wales

By PA
(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Lions completed a successful trip to Wales by recording back-to-back United Rugby Championship wins with a deserved 31-18 triumph over Cardiff at the Arms Park.

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Last Saturday, the South African outfit had to rely on a late try to sneak a 28-27 win over the Ospreys in Swansea but this was a more convincing victory with a bonus point.

PJ Botha, Morne van den Berg and Quan Horn all crossed for the visitors while there was also a penalty try. Gianni Lombard added the rest of their points with a penalty and three conversions.

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James Botham and Shane Lewis-Hughes scored Cardiff’s tries with Jarrod Evans adding two penalties and a conversion in a losing cause.

Cardiff, playing with the advantage of a strong wind in the first half, took an early lead with a long-range penalty from Evans.

That was the only score of the opening quarter, which the hosts dominated, but some determined defending by the Lions kept their line intact.

Cardiff’s new recruit Lopeti Timani impressed with a couple of powerful bursts and it took a thunderous tackle from visiting flanker Sibusiso Sangweni to deny the lock his first try for the region.

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The home side blew a couple of promising opportunities in the opposition 22 when Evans opted for cross-field kicks instead of passing but it was the outside-half who extended his side’s lead with a second penalty.

A penalty from Lombard gave the Lions their first points before Botham drove over from close range for the first try, but this was soon nullified by the Lions.

With the last play of the half, Cardiff collapsed a driving line-out to concede a penalty try with their number eight Taulupe Faletau yellow-carded for dragging it down to leave the hosts with a narrow 13-10 interval advantage.

In Faletau’s absence, the Lions built up a huge period of pressure before capitalising when Botha finished off a driving line-out.

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Faletau returned at the same time Cardiff made four substitutions in quick succession in an attempt to reverse their fortunes but it did not pay dividends as the Lions all-but sealed victory when replacement Van der Berg dived over.

Cardiff showed some spirit with a try from Lewis-Hughes but the Lions had the final say when an alert Horn beat Rhys Priestland to the touchdown for the bonus-point try.

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Flankly 9 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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FEATURE Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks
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