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Lions stoke the third Test tension with Springboks 'handbags' quip

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Courtney Lawes has lit the touchpaper ahead of Saturday’s finale to the Lions’ already fractious Test series versus the Springboks, the blindside explaining his team has no interest in any fighting or niggle and only want to go and play some of the rugby they were prevented from doing so in last weekend’s 27-9 second Test loss in Cape Town. 


The Test series has been besmirched by various antics such as concerns over the non-neutral TMNO in South African Marius Jonker, Rassie Erasmus’ incredible 62-minute video criticising the match officials as well as instances of foul play and dust-ups on the pitch. 

It has all left a tempestuous collision delicately balanced ahead of this Saturday’s third Test decider where the Lions are looking to speed up the play and have called on referee Mathieu Raynal not to allow the Springboks to get away with the alleged slow play tactics that were in use last weekend. 

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The latest RugbyPass Offload looks ahead of the Lions series decider
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The latest RugbyPass Offload looks ahead of the Lions series decider

These are allegations that have been refuted by Springboks assistant Mzwandile Stick, but the Lions believe a quicker tempo and steering clear of any rough stuff will be a successful blueprint as they see to add a Test series victory in South Africa to their 2013 success in Australia and the 2017 draw in New Zealand.  

“There are very legal ways in rugby to be physical and we showed that in the first half and the second half we got it wrong,” said Lawes, the first-choice Lions No6. “We will look to correct our mistakes and the discipline is a massive part of that… It’s the nuance things, penalties and things like that, we can’t give them an in to impose themselves in the maul and the scrum. If we can keep them moving around that is going to help us. 

“We can’t get too caught up in the niggle and scrapping and that stuff because it just slows down the game and it doesn’t really help us. We like a high-tempo game – we are a fit team, we want to run around, we want the ball in hand so we can’t get caught up in that and we need to try and speed the game up as much as we can.


“It’s going to be tough and it will be a conscious effort to stay out of that dog fight and niggle because I am imagining that is what they are going to want to bring again. We need to make a conscious effort to leave it alone and get back to what we want to do, which is trying to bring tempo into the game. They can throw the handbags around as much as they like as long as we can get that ball out and play some rugby.

“They came with a clear game plan last weekend and that was to slow the game down. We are a really fit team and we want to move the ball and play a lot. The second half of the first Test showed that if we do that they are going to struggle to keep up with us and it affects their scrum and maul,” continued Lawes, a veteran of the 2017 Lions tour to New Zealand.

“Their strategy paid off in the second Test. They were able to slow it down and when they are not tired they are going to scrum well and they are big, strong men and they are going to maul well, especially when you are giving them penalties and the aerial battle is heavily contested. They are going to get some joy.”




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