Kolisi revels in Springboks win at end of 'toughest week'

By Sports Desk July 31, 2021

Siya Kolisi was relieved to reach the end of "the toughest week I've ever had to face" as South Africa beat the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.

Tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am and 17 points from Handre Pollard settled the second Test 27-9 in the Springboks' favour, setting up a decider.

Focus returned to the pitch after a week in which Rassie Erasmus and Kolisi had been open in criticism of first Test referee Nic Berry.

The South Africa captain had said he felt "disrespected" by the manner of communication with the official.

Ben O'Keeffe, who showed two yellow cards and awarded Am's try in slightly contentious circumstances, was more popular with Kolisi.

"Today was better," he told Sky Sports. "I've worked with Ben before and it was great working with him."

Reflecting on the build-up to the match in Cape Town, Kolisi said: "It's been a week and a half. Honestly, for me, personally, as a leader, it was the toughest week I've ever had to face, with everything happening.

"But fortunately the coaches around made sure we focused on the things that we could fix.

"We know we made a lot of mistakes out there last week – especially in the maul and everything. We put all the focus on the game and what we could fix.

"And having our families, to be honest, was one of the things that helped me a lot. Have a tough day at training and you come home and the wives are waiting and the kids are waiting, that's been really special."

Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones – winning his 11th Lions cap, the outright fifth-most – was offered the opportunity to attribute a disappointing performance to the war of words between the sides.

But Jones made no excuses after his side's biggest defeat since the third Test against New Zealand in 2005.

The second half was especially disappointing, as the Lions were held scoreless for the first time since a 9-0 defeat to the All Blacks in 1983.

"Look, our focus was on what happens on the field – and it still is," Jones said. "We'll obviously go back and review where we can go right. That's our focus.

"Straight after the game, it's disappointing. We didn't want to take it to a third Test, but we have. We're fortunate we've got another opportunity next week."

It is at least familiar ground for the Lions, who have been taken to a decider in each of coach Warren Gatland's three series, but the Springboks now have some momentum.

Kolisi added: "It's game on. We're going to go again, nothing different, and we're going to try to do what we did today even harder."

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