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Springboks bomb squad fizzle out in second-half misfire

By Sam Smith
Tadhg Furlong (Photo By Ashley Vlotman/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The much-hyped Springboks front row came into the first test against the British & Irish Lions with a mythic reputation built off the performance in the World Cup final against England, after they had lost their tight head prop in just the third minute.


With a second front row sitting on the bench, the power of the Boks big men up front was supposed to be a weapon to destruct the Lions set-piece in Cape Town.

A key decision by Springboks management was to substitute the entire front row at halftime, putting hooker Malcolm Marx and props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe into the game fresh for 40-minutes.

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Nienaber talks about Springboks discipline
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Nienaber talks about Springboks discipline

The new arrivals failed to make any impact, as the Lions were able to stabilise the set-piece and force the Springboks to use the ball instead of playing for penalties. The tourists themselves had serious firepower on the reserves, with Ken Owen, Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola all test starters with their nations.

Springboks fans labelled the decision as a ‘bad call’ that ‘disrupted the ascendency’. Another wrote they lost the game ‘as soon as we changed the front row’.



Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber pinpointed the kicking game as the weak area in the second half which lead to the Lions roaring back to 19-5 advantage over the second half.

“The kicking game was won by us in the first half and we got the rewards,” the coach said, adding: “In the second half it was a different story.

“They won that battle and it gave them territory, an advantage in broken field play and we had to scramble, and could not cope.”

Despite not getting any reward at the scrum, Nienaber said his side made mistakes at the maul which let the Lions pack get on top, but he thought his side could salvage the series in the second test next week.

“Our discipline fell away,” the coach said.

“We started to make mistakes, especially at maul time.

“We did not make the step-up needed when required.

“We can certainly salvage this.”


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