'Rassie and Jacques, you got seduced by your own importance'
The much-anticipated first test between the British & Irish Lions and the Springboks end in a 22-17 win to the visitors, but not without controversy as the game had a number of big calls that altered the course of the match.
A Willie Le Roux try was ruled out by a marginal offside call by TMO Marius Jonker, taking a possible 7 points away from the Springboks. Jonker was also criticised for his decision on a lifting tackle by Hamish Watson that only resulted in a penalty.
While the referees were criticised by South African journalists, Brendan Nel wrote that the ‘Springboks didn’t lose because of Jonker’s calls’ but he did question whether Lions coach Warren Gatland had influenced him.
Writing for SuperSport, Nel wrote: “some of the questionable calls in the game begged the question whether Warren Gatland’s pressure over the change of television match official had gotten to local referee Marius Jonker?”
“To be clear, the Boks didn’t lose the game because of Jonker’s calls, and will have a week of soul searching where they will need to look at why their bomb squad had little impact, why they couldn’t field almost a single ball in the air in the second half and why they fell apart as the Lions got stronger in last 40 minutes,” he wrote.
South African journalist Mark Keohane, who boldly predicted a 3-0 series win to the Springboks before the series, went on a Twitter rampage as the Lions stormed home to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
In a more reserved piece on Keo.co.za, Keohane wrote that the ‘2019 World Cup win is yesterday’s news’ after an ‘implosion’ against the Lions in the first test and put the coaches under the spotlight for their team selections.
“Rassie and Jacques, you got seduced by your own importance. You picked the wrong guy to play the wrong game, and why I say that is that the greatest attacking weapon in world rugby, Cheslin Kolbe, never got an attacking ball.”
“You guys cocked it upped.”
Keohane also theorised that if the Springboks can’t win the series, there would be no point playing the All Blacks later in the year asking the coaches to get it right or go on leave.
“Get it right or take a sabbatical because if you lose this series, don’t bother getting on a plane to play the All Blacks,” he wrote.
Craig Ray of the Daily Maverick wrote that the Springboks had the advantage in the first half as they built a 12-3 lead, but they wilted as the game wore on and their defensive work sapped their energy.
“The Boks could barely escape their own territory and the amount of tackling they had to do sapped their energy,” he wrote.
“It was their second Test in 21 months and the lack of game time showed as they gradually wilted.
“Mauls, rucks, scrums and lineouts virtually all went against the Boks; it was a downward spiral.”
On the coaches call to substitute the entire front row at halftime, Ray wrote that it ‘backfired’ as the Springboks’ game went off the boil.
“It was a ploy that backfired as the more established trio battled to impose themselves on the Lions. That was a combination of the Lions’ improvements and all areas of the Boks’ game going off the boil.”
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