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'Too predictable': Lions fans convinced of con-job against SA 'A'

By Sam Smith

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South Africa A’s 17-13 win over the British & Irish Lions gave the tourists their first loss of the tour, after two comprehensive wins over the Cell C Sharks and one over the Sigma Lions.


The ‘A’ side, laden with first choice Springbok starters by Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, flexed their might over the tourists in a dominant first half that saw them score two tries and build a 17-3 halftime lead.

However, the nature in which the British & Irish Lions approached the game left many questioning just how interested they were in winning, seemingly holding back nearly everything in the game.

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The most obvious clue came on the stroke of halftime, as the Lions used pick-and-go after pick-and-go to attack the Springboks line without any variation.

After South Africa ‘A’ were down to 13-men after two yellow cards, the Lions refused to call a scrum from just five metres out to take advantage of the situation, instead persisting with tap-and-carry tactics through hooker Ken Owens.

The tactic failed to bring any points, with prop Wyn Jones penalised after numerous attempts for a double movement in the act of trying to get over the line. The Lions also failed to launch any set-piece plays of note, using one-out carries to Bundee Aki and kicked a ton of possession away.

Fans called it ‘too predictable’ and immediately began to theorise the Lions were holding back. One ‘loved’ how the Lions were ‘lulling the Boks into a false sense of security’ with their lifeless game plan.



Many noted just how relaxed Warren Gatland was in the post-match press conference, seemingly undeterred by the loss to what he called a ‘nearly full-strength’ Springbok side.

“I was just really pleased with us, just how strong we looked in the second half and they started to flag a bit,” enthused Gatland.

“There is no doubt they [South Africa] will benefit from having the game and they will have another hit-out this weekend but considering they were pretty much at full strength and we got a good feeling for how it was, we needed that tough hit-out and the players are pretty bullish in the changing room.

The Lions coach said his players are ‘bullish’ about their prospects against the Springboks and they are confident ‘they can handle whatever they throw at us’.

“They feel pretty confident that we can handle whatever they throw at us going forward and we definitely will improve,” he said.

“We have to do a little work at the breakdown area, and we need to start a bit better than we did today but as we got into the game coming from behind I thought we look pretty strong and finished strong.

“Even that second last scrum pushing them back I thought we were very unlucky not to get a penalty from that.”


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