South Africa outclassed the British and Irish Lions 27-9 in an ill-tempered second Test to level the series in Cape Town and set up a decider.

The world champions had come up just short in a controversial opening loss but controlled proceedings on Saturday after another scrappy start.

Indeed, at the end of a week dominated by Rassie Erasmus' criticism of the officiating, referee Ben O'Keeffe took centre stage in the second try-less first half of the series.

But a pair of incisive kicks from Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk then teed up scores for Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am to deal the Lions their first defeat in four Tests.

The nature of Am's try could be considered contentious, however, and it might be Warren Gatland's turn to take issue with an under-the-spotlight official whose early warnings scarcely checked a frantic encounter.

Penalties provided the best opportunities for points, with Pollard opening the scoring after three minutes and Dan Biggar twice responding with his boot.

Pollard pulled a second effort wide to the left and the Springboks were dealt a blow as Pieter-Steph du Toit departed with an apparent shoulder injury before tempers flared.

Duhan van der Merwe made for the sin bin when his attempted kick instead caught Cheslin Kolbe, who soon followed his opponent for tackling Conor Murray in the air. A subsequent melee went unpunished.

Pollard found his range again, only for Biggar to keep the Lions three points ahead at half-time – albeit after the tourists passed up an opening when Robbie Henshaw could not ground the ball beyond the try line.

The quality that had been missing was immediately evident in the second period, however, as Pollard's kick picked out Mapimpi to thunder over on the left.

Pollard missed the conversion, which would have allowed Biggar to kick the Lions back in front had his fourth penalty not bounced away off the post.

Gatland's men struggled to put the Springboks under any extended pressure and they were instead forced back, with De Klerk picking out Am, who appeared to control the ball with his forearm, rather than his palm.

Pollard found the target this time and another kick made absolutely sure. As a one-sided second half concluded in Lions territory, there was time for him to add one more, too, finishing with 17 points.

MAPIMPI MAKES HIS MARK

Kolbe's ineffective first Test display was a talking point, with the highly talented wing restricted to three carries and failing to beat a defender. He improved only marginally to four carries on Saturday and struggled to impact the game beyond his yellow card.

Fortunately for the Springboks, their other wing stepped up. Mapimpi's try provided a belated moment of real class. He beat two defenders but also got involved in the action in a defensive sense, making five tackles and winning two turnovers.

CONTENTED COACH?

Just enough decisions went South Africa's way to ensure a war of words around the standard of refereeing is unlikely to subside. Erasmus will now be the happier of the two coaches.

O'Keeffe was a little lenient with both sides in the first half and then found in favour of the Springboks when Am looked to lose control of the ball. However, the final penalty count – 15-10 in the hosts' favour – was more due to their dominance than any officiating calls.

South Africa must take their frustration over officiating out on the British and Irish Lions when then they attempt to keep the series alive on Saturday.

The Lions roared back in the second half of an attritional first Test at Cape Town Stadium last weekend to take a 1-0 lead with a 22-17 victory.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has had a busy week since the world champions' seven-match winning run came to an end.

Erasmus accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play and used social media to highlight "questionable calls" from the officials during an absorbing contest.

The 48-year-old fanned the flames further on Thursday, offering to "step away" in an hour-long video in which he stated the Springboks should be given an "equal chance" by officials in the remainder of series.

It was the turn of assistant coach Mzwandile Stick to have his say on Friday, accusing the Lions of “destroying the dignity of the series" by starting the war of words prior to the first Test.

Siya Kolisi then backed up Erasmus' claim that the Springboks captain felt disrespected by referee Nic Berry, who might be glad it will be New Zealander Ben O'Keeffe on duty this weekend.

The Lions have taken a different approach as they look to stretch their run of series without defeat to three for the first time since 1959, giving their backing to O'Keeffe.

Full-back Stuart Hogg said: "In the short time I've been Scotland captain Ben O'Keeffe has been one of the best referees I've had to deal with.

"He almost coaches you round the field at the same time. When we ask questions he's very calm in his answers and is good at communicating.

"That's a reason why a large majority of his games when he's involved are allowed to flow, you're allowed to get on with it, and he helped me massively in the couple of games we've had him when I've been leading the side.

"Everyone is entitled to the opinion of referees, but they have a huge amount of respect from us as players. I'd hate to do the job if I'm honest!

"But Ben O'Keeffe has been one of the best referees I've had the opportunity to deal with as captain."

South Africa have handed number eight Jasper Wiese his first Test start as one of three changes, with prop Steven Kitshoff steps in to win his 50th cap alongside the returning Frans Malherbe.

Prop Mako Vunipola, scrum-half Conor Murray and centre Chris Harris come into the Lions team.

 

 

KOLISI: TIME TO STAND UP

While the hurting Springboks were quick to point the finger at the officials, skipper Kolisi knows they must improve after squandering a lead in the first Test.

"Of course, we feel a lot of pressure, but we must focus on what we can control and fix the mistakes we made," said Kolisi.

"We responded well this week and trained well, and we are looking forward to the match. We know we have to stand up in times like these."

He added: "There are some similarities to losing against New Zealand in our opening game in the World Cup, but this is different because this tournament is only played every 12 years, while the World Cup is played every four years, so we may not have another opportunity.

"We have to turn it up and we are looking forward to the match."

 

LIONS PREPARED FOR BOKS BACKLASH

Robin McBryde has been looking back as well as forward as the Lions prepare for another almighty battle, reading up on the 1974 tour of South Africa.

The Lions secured a 3-0 whitewash 47 years ago, but they did not go down without a huge fight and forwards coach McBryde knows it will be no different this time around. 

"They will go back to their physical nature. It’s what they did in 1974 after losing that first Test," he said.

"There's a term they have which means climbing in, to get stuck in. I'm sure that’s what they'll be looking to do on Saturday – to get stuck into us.

"They're a very proud nation who will be looking to come out with all guns blazing."

 

South Africa : Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements : Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions : Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements : Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Taulupe Faletau, Ali Price, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The Lions have lost just two of their previous 13 games in Cape Town (W10, D1), a run that stretches back to the beginning of the 1974 tour.
- South Africa conceded 14 penalties against the Lions in the first Test, including nine inside their own half of the pitch; both tallies were their most in a Test since June 2018 against England.
- The Lions are unbeaten in their three Tests (W2, D1), their best run since a six game spell spanning the 1971 and 1974 tours (W4, D2).
- The tourists have lost just two series after winning the first Test (W10, D1) – against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001. They won four and drew one of their five such series against South Africa.

South Africa assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has accused the British and Irish Lions of "destroying the dignity of the series" ahead of the second Test on Saturday.

The Springboks are aiming to bounce back in Cape Town following last weekend's controversial 22-17 defeat in the series opener.

The performance of referee Nic Berry came under scrutiny from the hosts, with director of rugby Rassie Erasmus embarking on a lengthy rant on social media criticising the official.

Backing Erasmus, Stick has intensified the pressure ahead of the second Test.

The assistant coach has suggested Warren Gatland's Lions challenged the integrity of the governing body in the lead-up to the opening Test by questioning the appointment of South African Marius Jonker as TMO.

"Let's go on the build-up where firstly, the integrity of World Rugby was challenged by another human being when Marius was appointed TMO," Stick said.

"And then Gatland on the other side went crazy, and was asking World Rugby and challenging them about the decision they had made.

"We're not asking for any favours, we just want equal grounds.

"I wouldn't like the whole series to be about decisions taken by the officials, or about the coaches off the field.

"Even if things are being said in social media or a traditional media conference, it's still the media. All coaches want to get their messages across.

"He (Erasmus) wanted to state his as his own personal view; it had nothing to do with us as a team.

"So if Rassie got into trouble because of what he said on social media, I think the gentleman that challenged the integrity of the game when the TMO was challenged, I think that is something that really destroyed the dignity of the series and also challenges the integrity of World Rugby."

Rassie Erasmus has offered to "step away" from his role with South Africa for the remainder of the series against the British and Irish Lions in an extraordinary hour-long video.

Erasmus had accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play via social media earlier this week following the 22-17 victory for Warren Gatland's side in the first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

He had also been active on social media 24 hours after Saturday's game, retweeting clips from a user highlighting "questionable calls" made during proceedings.

South Africa's director of rugby has now taken aim again at the officials ahead of the second Test, stating that the Springboks should have an "equal chance" in the remainder of the series as he revealed his readiness to move aside.

Erasmus said: "I have previous encounters where I've made mistakes, saying things in public about referees and that normally comes back to bite you.

"But in this instance, the Lions only comes around every 12 years. I think it should be fair that I'll step away from these last two Test matches, but let the Springboks and the Lions have an equal chance on the field when it comes to laws, respect and the way that players get treated."

He added: "If you think this is going over the top and it shouldn't go out to the media, then I did this in my personal capacity, not as part of the Springboks and I'll withdraw myself from the Springbok management team."

Erasmus felt that South Africa captain Siya Kolisi was not treated with the same level of respect as Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones in the opening Test.

He said: "When Siya spoke to the referee and when Alun Wyn spoke to the referee, I felt the reactions on how they treated both those players… there was a vast difference between who was taken seriously and who wasn't.

"It's comical, the way the respect the assistant referees and the refs is different between the Lions and South Africa. There was a vast difference between who he was taking serious and who he wasn't taking serious."

Erasmus acted as water carrier in the first Test but reiterated he is prepared to move out of the limelight.

"If this causes that I'm not allowed to be water carrier that's fine, I'll step away," he said. "If we're going to get a fine, I'll step away from the management team.

"If this means the Springboks will get in trouble, I'll say I did this personally, because I believe in fairness, the system and two teams having an equal chance of competing in a match.

"I'm not saying the referee was a cheat at all, saying we just wanted clarity on a Sunday night, which we now have on a Tuesday, which I personally am not very convinced with the clarity we had from (referee) Nic Berry."

Erasmus was also eager to point out that Gatland had questioned why Faf de Klerk had not been sent off in the Lions' defeat to South Africa A earlier in the tour, while he also took issue at the decision to appoint Marius Jonker as TMO in the first Test, a move made after original selection Brendon Pickerill was ruled out due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think where things for us got cluttered and frustrating was when the Lions started moaning about officiating on the field, where for example Faf got a yellow card in the South Africa A game," Erasmus said.

"The Lions criticised that and said they wanted clarity from World Rugby where it should have been a red card and was it not direct head contact. We had in the same game lots of clips of the Lions making mistakes, just like us. Warren openly said it should have been a red card.

"Obviously then he talks to the media and according to me is that you don't talk to the media, you talk to World Rugby. Again, it is a bit of a grey area. If you wanted to go in such depth about Faf's.

"We just put two on social media. We saw it as banter. Before a big Test match, they put some pressure, we put some pressure on.

"Where we got a bit worried was this narrative that we are this dirty team and all the chat was that the South Africans want to play physical and that’s why they highlighted the Faf thing.

"When the TMO was drawn and Marius Jonker was appointed, the Lions made such a fuss of it. We don't want this negativity in South Africa."

Warren Gatland felt Maro Itoje’s outstanding display in the British and Irish Lions’ victory over South Africa last weekend was the best he has seen from the back-row.

Itoje was named man of the match after playing a huge part in the Lions overturning a half-time deficit to win the first Test at Cape Town Stadium 22-17.

The 26-year-old England lock was dominant at the breakdown against the world champions and came up with a game-high three turnovers.

"To me that’s probably the best game I’ve seen him play in any sort of jersey," said Gatland.

"He has been guilty in the past of giving away penalties and probably pushing the limits but I thought we saw an incredibly mature performance last weekend."

 

Gatland was impressed with Itoje's discipline in an attritional battle.

"I thought it was an excellent performance; I made a joke on Monday that it was the first time in about 360-odd games that Maro Itoje hadn't given away a penalty," Gatland added.

"I thought his decision making around the game in terms of when he went for things, when he decided to leave things alone, I kind of felt in the past he's chased lost causes and gone after things he didn't need to do and probably wasted a lot of energy.

"But I thought on Saturday his decision making about when to go after something, counter-ruck at the breakdown and the line-out stuff, was actually outstanding."

The Lions have made three changes for the second Test on Saturday, bringing in scrum-half Conor Murray, Mako Vunipola and debutant Chris Harris.

Real Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo was on target again as hosts Japan eliminated France from the Tokyo Olympics men's football tournament with a 4-0 win on Wednesday.

Kubo netted in Japan's first two Group A games and gave Madrid another reminder of his quality by opening the scoring against France in Yokohama.

In doing so, the 20-year-old became the first Japanese player to score in each group-stage match at the same Olympic tournament.

Hiroki Sakai doubled Japan's lead prior to half-time before Koji Miyoshi and Daizen Maeda completed the rout, either side of Randal Kolo Muani being sent off.

Japan advance as the only side with a 100 per cent record, whereas France – who had Timothee Pembele and Andre-Pierre Gignac in their line-up – are out at the first stage.

Only Fiji (23 in 2016) and Serbia-Montenegro (14 in 2004) have let in more than the 11 goals France conceded at Tokyo 2020 in the 21st century.

"The tournament was really difficult for us, because we are young players and these are the first games we have played with the team," France midfielder Alexis Beka Beka said. 

"One of the big differences was the other teams knew each other much better. But it's all about the details. The game is never finished."

Mexico recovered from their loss to Japan last time out by beating South Africa 3-0 in a game in which both sides had a player sent off, seeing them through in second place ahead of France.

 


SPAIN MATCH CLASS OF '92

Spain were not perfect in the pool phase, having been held for the second time in three games in Wednesday's clash with Argentina, but they still went through as Group C winners.

It is the first time La Roja have achieved that feat at the Olympic Games since the likes of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique went on to win gold in Barcelona in 1992.

Spain dominated possession against Argentina and took the lead through Mikel Merino's 66th-minute strike at Saitama Stadium.

Tomas Belmonte's late equaliser came against the run of play, but it was not enough to prevent 2004 and 2008 gold medallists Argentina crashing out early on.

London 2012 quarter-finalists Egypt finished level on four points with Argentina after beating Australia 2-0 and progress to the last eight, where heavyweights Brazil await, by virtue of a superior goal difference.

HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR OLYWHITES

New Zealand picked up the point they needed against Romania in a goalless draw to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time.

Goalkeeper Michael Woud redeemed himself for his horror show in the loss to Honduras by making a string of stops against Romania, who would have advanced with a win.

"It really came down to desire tonight," said OlyWhites head coach Danny Hay. "The boys really dug deep and showed a lot of that.

"I'm really proud of the performance. It's historic and we look forward to a quarter-final for a New Zealand men's team."

New Zealand also needed a favour from South Korea, who followed up a 4-0 win against Romania with a 6-0 victory over Honduras on Wednesday en route to topping Group B.

Hwang Ui-jo scored three of the goals, two of those from the penalty spot, and a showdown with Mexico is up next for rampant South Korea for a place in the semi-finals.

RIO FINALISTS GERMANY FALL SHORT

Germany will not get the opportunity to match or better their silver medal from Rio in 2016 as a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast saw their opponents through at their expense.

Nothing less than a win would do for Stefan Kuntz's men but they fell behind to a Benjamin Henrichs own goal with 67 minutes played.

While Eduard Lowen's impressive free-kick did set up a tense finish in Miyagi, Germany were unable to find a winner and are on the plane home.

Ivory Coast will now take on Spain, the last European nation standing, in the quarter-finals.

Also through to the knockout stage are reigning champions Brazil after seeing off Saudi Arabia 3-1, with Richarlison's late double adding to Matheus Cunha's first-half opener.

South Africa have handed Jasper Wiese his first Test start and made three changes to their team to face the British and Irish Lions.

The second Test takes place in Cape Town on Saturday after the Lions came from behind to win the opener 22-17.

Hosts South Africa have brought in Wiese at number eight, while there are two changes to the front row as prop Steven Kitshoff steps in to win his 50th cap alongside the returning Frans Malherbe.

Kitshoff comes in for the injured Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane drops to the bench to make space for Malherbe.

Leicester Tigers star Wiese was not even on the bench for first Test but he will come straight into the XV to replace Kwagga Smith.

Wiese has only previously made one substitute appearance at senior international level, which came in a warm-up match against Georgia this month.

Flanker Siya Kolisi will again captain the Springboks, whose coach Jacques Nienaber knows the stakes could not be higher.

"This is a massive game for us; it is do or die in order to stay in the race to win the series," Nienaber said as he discussed his team.

"We selected a team that offers continuity in selection, but also that we thought would be the best suited to achieve the objectives we have set for this match.

"Ox did well in the scrums last week and has been ruled out due to injury, but fortunately we have a world-class player in Steven who can step into the starting team. 

"The fact that this will mark his 50th Test will make this occasion even more important for him.

"We disappointed ourselves last week, and we all know how important it is to bounce back with a strong performance and show our fighting spirit and pride as a team and nation."

Six of the eight Springboks replacements are forwards, with Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse the only backs on the bench.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Lions also announced three changes to their starting XV.

Warren Gatland picked Mako Vunipola, with Conor Murray and Chris Harris also coming into the team to face the world champions.

In the 13 series in British and Irish Lions history when the tourists have won the first Test, they have gone on to win 10, draw one and lose just twice.

It has happened in five such series against South Africa, leading to four wins and one draw.

Following their first Test win, the Lions are unbeaten in their last three Tests, their best run since a six-game spell spanning the 1971 and 1974 tours.


South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

Warren Gatland has selected Mako Vunipola to start for the British and Irish Lions in the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Head coach Gatland makes three changes to the side that beat the Springboks 22-17 last weekend, with Conor Murray and Chris Harris also coming into the starting XV to face the world champions on Saturday.

Vunipola replaces Rory Sutherland as he joins Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tadhg Furlong in the front row, while captain Alun Wyn Jones wins his 11th successive Lions Test cap as he partners Maro Itoje in an unchanged back row.

Murray comes in for Ali Price at scrum-half to partner Dan Biggar, while Harris is preferred to Elliot Daly to play alongside Robbie Henshaw in the centres.

The back three of Anthony Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg is unchanged, while Taulupe Faletau joins Sutherland, Price and Daly on the bench.

The Lions have only lost two series after winning the first Test, with the most recent occasion coming against Australia in 2001.

"As always, selection was incredibly tough," Gatland said. "However, we've made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend's game.

"We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.

"It's the biggest game on the Tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. 

"We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a series win."


British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Taulupe Faletau, Ali Price, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.

British and Irish Lions star Mako Vunipola and defence coach Steve Tandy have jumped to the tourists' defence after Rassie Erasmus took to social media to criticise their conduct in the first Test against South Africa on Saturday.

The Springboks' director of rugby posted and interacted with multiple posts on Twitter in the aftermath of the 22-17 defeat in Cape Town as he dissected what he thought to be a poor refereeing performance and an ill-disciplined outing from Warren Gatland's men.

The latest clip posted by Erasmus involved Ali Price's initial tackle on Cheslin Kolbe near the touchline before Vunipola lifts the South Africa winger off the turf – an act Erasmus cited as "reckless and dangerous".

The 2019 World Cup-winning coach added: "Cheslin is obviously played in the air and clearly not direct into touch!! More importantly for youngsters watching this clip!!!! Please never move or touch an injured player on the ground."

Vunipola, in contrast, insisted he was trying to inject energy by regaining the ball as the Lions looked to get back into proceedings, while the prop also offered Kolbe his apologies should he be injured.

"I remember just trying to get the ball," the Lions forward said. "I saw he had gone down and it was done in the heat of the moment. He seemed alright. He played on for the rest of the match.

"I guess if he was really hurt, it was a bit reckless. But I felt the collision wasn't that bad. We were behind at the time and we wanted some tempo. If I did hurt him, I apologise."

This is not the first time that Erasmus' social media posts have caused both controversy and confusion.

A day prior to the Vunipola accusation, Erasmus retweeted a post from an anonymous user which branded some of the match officials' calls as "questionable" against the reigning world champions.

Erasmus added to the highlights package of the officials' apparent mistakes: "Thanks. This is rugby - sometimes calls go for you and other times they don't."

Lions defence coach Tandy, who admitted his lack of social media literacy, responded by offering the match officials praise and insisted the tourists would lodge any complaints through the relevant governing bodies.

"Being a bit of a dinosaur myself and not being on Twitter and things, I'm hearing lots of hearsay," Tandy commented. "We thought the officials did a really good job at the weekend and if there's anything we need to bring up we'll go through the appropriate channels.

"Every team can go through micro details and analyse it. We do it ourselves, but it is then going through the appropriate channels, raising the ones that are relevant and not making it about every small detail, just making sure every one of the major ones is correct.

"It’s a tough job and I know everyone moans around certain decisions. There’s always frustration, and we get it as coaches. But if you can keep that, because it is a tough job out there for the officials.

"If we can keep to the proper channels, I think that is probably the best way around that because it’s a tough job for the players, the coaches, and it’s definitely tough for the referees too."

The Lions, who have now won the opening Test in four of their last seven tours, return to action on Saturday as they look to secure an unassailable lead in the three-Test series.

Rassie Erasmus lit the blue touch paper by accusing the British and Irish Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play in the first Test against South Africa.

The Lions fought back in the second half at Cape Town Stadium to beat the Springboks 22-17 on Saturday in an attritional contest to open the three-match series.

Erasmus posted a clip on Twitter on Monday showing Ali Price tackling Cheslin Kolbe close to the touchline late on, before Mako Vunipola picked the wing up off the floor.

South Africa's director of rugby wrote on his verified account: "Cheslin is obviously played in the air and clearly not in touch!

"More importantly for youngsters watching this clip, please never move or touch an injured player on the ground, it's reckless and dangerous.

"Leave this to the [medics]."

Erasmus had also been busy on social media on Sunday, retweeting clips from a user highlighting "questionable calls" by officials.

He wrote when retweeting one of the clips: "Thanks. This is rugby - sometimes calls go for you and other times they don't."

South Africa and the Lions lock horns again in the second Test at the same venue on Saturday.

France got the better of South Africa in a seven-goal thriller as Andre-Pierre Gignac's hat-trick inspired Les Bleus to a 4-3 victory at the Tokyo Olympics.

Having been thrashed 4-1 by Mexico in their opening game of Group A, France hit back to keep their chances of progression alive, though they had to do so the hard way in Saitama.

Indeed, South Africa led on three occasions during a remarkable second half, yet it was Les Bleus who took the points.

Liberato Cacace's stunner was not enough to propel New Zealand to victory against Honduras in Group B, while reigning champions Brazil could only draw 0-0 with the Ivory Coast and Spain overcame Australia thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal's late winner.

 

GIGNAC AND SAVANIER SETTLE THRILLER

France were on the wrong end of conceding four last time out, and though they still let three in this time around, Teji Savanier's stoppage-time goal saw them clinch victory.

It was 35-year-old Gignac who had previously dragged France level on three occasions – a close-range finish followed by a thumping header before the Tigres striker, the leading scorer in the competition, converted his second penalty of the tournament to cancel out Teboho Mokoena's glorious 81st-minute strike.

Luther Singh had missed a first-half penalty for South Africa, with Kobamelo Kodisang and Evidence Makgopa also getting on the scoresheet.

But Gignac's efforts set the stage for France to nose themselves ahead when Montpellier's experienced Savanier lashed home, sending South Africa out in the process.

France sit third in Group A, three points behind leaders Japan, who survived a late scare to beat Mexico 2-1.

ALL WHITES LET LEAD SLIP

Cacace's exceptional strike put New Zealand ahead after just 10 minutes in Kashima – the defender picking out the top-right corner with a first-time effort from 30 yards out.

Luis Palma restored parity in first-half stoppage time, yet Chris Wood carried on his scoring form to put New Zealand back in front just after the restart.

Yet substitutes proved the difference for Honduras. Juan Obregon netted with 12 minutes remaining, paving the way for Rigoberto Rivas to clinch the comeback victory.

Matters were much more simple for South Korea, as they cruised to a 4-0 triumph against Romania, meaning all four Group B teams are on four points heading into the final matchday.

 

OYARZABAL RECORDS LONG-AWAITED SPAIN WIN

Spain secured their first win at an Olympic Games since 2000 thanks to Oyarzabal's header against Australia, which came with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

The 24-year-old Real Sociedad winger – who played a pivotal role in Spain's run to the semi-finals at Euro 2020 – has put La Roja top of Group C heading into Wednesday's encounter with Argentina, who beat Egypt.

Spain, who drew with Egypt in their opener, won gold in 1992 and silver in 2000, but had only qualified once since then, but they failed to score across their three appearances in the 2012 London Games.

CHAMPIONS HELD AS GERMANY BOUNCE BACK

Brazil sparkled in their 4-2 win over Germany on matchday one, though they could not find a way past the Ivory Coast, who held them to a 0-0 draw in Group D.

Douglas Luiz was sent off early on for Brazil, who missed a last-gasp chance to seal qualification through substitute Malcom after the Ivory Coast had also been reduced to 10 men.

Meanwhile, Germany recovered from their defeat on matchday one to beat Saudi Arabia 3-2 – Felix Uduokhai netting the decisive goal in the 75th minute.

The British and Irish Lions roared back in the second half to beat South Africa 22-17 in a gripping first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

Four penalties from Handre Pollard, playing his 50th Test, gave the Springboks a 12-3 half-time advantage as the struggling Lions were made to pay for indiscipline.

Luke Cowan-Dickie crashed over early in the second half, but a somewhat contentious Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions’ lead.

Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties to put Warren Gatland’s side in front for the first time with 18 minutes to play and Owen Farrell put them five points up late on.

The Springboks had two second-half tries ruled out and they could not provide a late twist, with Pollard missing a penalty and conversion attempt.

The tackles flew in and high kicks galore were sent up in a frantic start and the Springboks struck a psychological blow when they had the better of the first scrum.

Pollard put the world champions in front with a 13th-minute penalty and he doubled their advantage to punish Tom Curry for a late hit on livewire fly-half Faf de Klerk.

Biggar got the Lions on the board soon after with a great strike from long range midway through a breathless first half, but another two clean strikes from the tee from Pollard made Gatland's side pay for yet more indiscipline with relentless South Africa winning the battle.

The Lions struggled at the lineout and Biggar pulled a penalty wide, while Elliot Daly was just short with a shot at goal from inside his own half before Willie le Roux kept his side nine points in front late in the first half with a great tackle on a charging Robbie Henshaw.

South Africa came out after the break with a new front row and they were pushed back by an unstoppable driving maul only three minutes into the second half, with Cowan-Dickie touching down and Biggar adding the extras.

Le Roux had a try ruled out for offside moments later, but TMO Marius Jonker was in the spotlight again when he saw no issue with a score awarded to De Klerk, which the Lions thought should have been overturned for a Pieter-Steph du Toit knock-on.

Biggar's penalty made it a one-point game and the fly-half put the Lions in front with another clean strike from the tee.

Pollard had failed to convert De Klerk’s try and he missed a penalty after Hamish Watson was fortunate to escape without a card for a tackle on Le Roux.

There was further drama when Damian de Allende’s try was chalked off for offside with eight minutes to go and the Lions clung on to take a series lead following a late Farrell penalty.

Alun Wyn Jones has been deemed fit enough to skipper the British and Irish Lions against South Africa as Warren Gatland predicted an "arm wrestle" in the first Test after naming his XV for the match.

Jones has recovered from the dislocated shoulder he sustained in the tourists 28-10 win over Japan at Murrayfield last month.

The Welsh lock will win his 10th successive Test cap in Cape Town on Saturday and joins an illustrious list of Lions players to have achieved the feat.

Gareth Edwards (10), Graham Price (12), Mike Gibson (12) Dickie Jeeps (13) and Willie-John McBride (17) have all reached the milestone, although Jones is the first in the professional era.

Lions head coach Gatland warned Jones and his team-mates to be ready for a gruelling tussle against the Springboks, the current World Cup holders.

 

"We know what we're coming up against on Saturday. It’s going to be an arm wrestle, there’s no doubt about it," he told the British and Irish Lions website.

"We'll need to front up physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played South Africa A last week we probably took a bit too long to get into the game, something we can't afford to do that again this weekend.

"We need to make sure we play in the right areas of the field, not give them easy territory and take our chances when they come."

Jones is joined in the second row by England's Maro Itoje while compatriot Luke Cowan-Dickie, Wales' Wyn Jones and Ireland's Tadhg Furlong make up the front row.

Courtney Lawes will play on the blind side flank on his first full Test appearance, having won his previous two caps from the bench against New Zealand in 2017.

Lawes' England team-mate Tom Curry has been named on the open side, with Irishman Jack Conan securing the number eight shirt.

Scotland's Ali Price is at scrum-half and has Wales number 10 Dan Biggar for company in the half-back berths while Robbie Henshaw has returned from a hamstring injury to partner Elliot Daly in midfield.

England's Anthony Watson wins his fourth Lions Test cap as he takes his spot on the wing opposite Duhan van der Merwe, with fellow Scot Stuart Hogg at full-back.

The starting XV includes three Scots for the first time since the 1997 Tour to South Africa.
 

 

"In my four tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in," Gatland added.

"We couldn't have asked for more from the players so far. They've all put their hands up and made picking a starting XV incredibly difficult.

"In truth, we would have been happy with any number of different combinations across the 23, however, we're very pleased with the side we've settled on."

 

British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams

World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi will lead South Africa against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday after returning from 10 days in isolation following a COVID-19 positive test.

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber announced his team on Tuesday, and the 23-man group features 21 players who helped South Africa to their global triumph two years ago in Japan.

Handre Pollard, who will act as vice-captain, will earn his 50th cap as the three-Test series gets under way in Cape Town.

Ox Nche and Makazole Mapimpi, with Kolisi, were the last to join the camp in Cape Town on Monday but all have proved their fitness following the self-isolation period in Johannesburg.

Nienaber's men breezed past Georgia 40-9 in a warm-up Test two weeks ago but the scheduled second match was cancelled due to coronavirus outbreaks in both camps, meaning Saturday will be just the Springboks' second Test since the World Cup success.

The Springboks opt for changes on the wing, where Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe will start, and in the centres where Damian de Allende resumes his partnership with Lukhanyo Am.

South Africa make two further changes to their replacements, with Lood de Jager of Sale Sharks and Rynhardt Elstadt of Toulouse replacing Marvin Orie and Jasper Wiese.

Warren Gatland is expected to reveal his 23-man Lions selection on Wednesday as the tourists prepare for the highly anticipated series opener.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith. 

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

Tabraiz Shamsi's 4-27 ensured a routine 33-run win for South Africa over Ireland to secure a 1-0 series lead in the first bilateral men's T20I between the two sides in Malahide on Monday.

Quinton de Kock's 20 off nine balls threatened a promising start but came to an end as he found Paul Stirling's hands off the bowling of Mark Adair and that laid the foundations for a stuttering first-innings performance from the Proteas.

The visitors lost wickets at regular intervals, with Rassie van der Dussen (25 off 18), Aiden Markram (39 off 30) and David Miller (28 off 21) all showing incentive before failing to capitalise as South Africa reached 165-7, a touch above the average first-innings score of 152 in Malahide.

Simi Singh (2-19), Josh Little (2-27) and Adair (3-39) were the pick of the Ireland bowlers despite the latter being bludgeoned for four consecutive fours by Kagiso Rabada in the 20th over, which leaked 17 runs.

Stirling hoisted George Linde's first ball of Ireland's reply for six but that did not prove a sign of things to come given he was immediately bowled around his legs by the following delivery.

Captain Andy Balbirnie's 22 off 16 balls offered minor resistance as he watched his side struggle to 38-4 at the end of the six-over powerplay, courtesy of two wickets for Lungi Ngidi's wickets and one a piece for Linde and Rabada.

Linde and the world's number-one ranked T20I bowler Shamsi then rolled through the hosts' batting line-up to take 2-26 and 4-27 from their respective allocations and restrict Ireland to 132-9, with Harry Tector's 36 off 34 balls and Barry McCarthy's lower-order cameo of 30 off 25 balls offering the smallest of boosts for Ireland's poor batting showing.

Spin it to win it

Singh's maiden ODI hundred proved in vain in the third ODI defeat for Ireland but he proved his worth with the ball in Malahide, producing an economical four-over spell that saw him go for just one boundary.

Linde enjoyed similar spinning success, though, it was Shamsi who stole the show once again for the Proteas.

The left-arm leg-spinner is the most economical bowler in T20I cricket since the start of 2020 and, barring a trio of wides and two avoidable boundaries, Shamsi displayed his quality as he frequently spun the Ireland batsmen into a tangle.

 

O'Brien's ominous struggles

After playing five internationals and scoring just 27 runs, including a duck and three single-score returns, in 2021 heading into this match, Kevin O'Brien fell for another first-ball dismissal as he was caught and bowled by Rabada.

Turning out for Leinster Lightning in Ireland's inter-provincial T20 tournament, O'Brien has endured a lean domestic spell, too, managing a meagre 47 runs in six matches with a top score of 16.

O'Brien, scorer of Ireland's only hundred in the shortest limited-overs format, will be desperate to find form before the T20 World Cup gets underway in October.

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