The British and Irish Lions survived a severe test by the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein to hold on for the third win of their South Africa tour.
The visitors cruised into an early lead with tries from Stephen Ferris scooping up a loose ball and running under the sticks on 10 mins and then Keith Earls with a jinking run on 16 mins,both these were converted by James Hook. who also had success with the boot on 6 minutes, and 21 minutes to give the Lions a 0-20 lead. All was looking on track for a repeat of Wednesday evening, but then Ferris got himself binned and the Cheetahs got into the game with scores by Danwell Demas and Wian Du Preez both converted by J-L Potgieter. Hook posted another penalty on 38 minutes and the half closed with the score at 14-23.
The second half and the Lions could not get any authority and lost ball at the breakdown and failed to make impact through the midfield. All this meant that they got put under pressure when they did not need to. Simple things like Halfpenny taking a man out in the air straight from the start of the half and with a penalty the score was now 17-23 and the Cheetahs tails were up. 50 minutes and Hook eased the Lions worries with a penalty that took them 2 score ahead. The game entered the last 10 minutes and fans were breathing easier but Shane Williams threw an interception pass and Corne Uys ran in under the posts giving Louis Strydom a simple conversion and making the last eights minutes with the score at 24-26 a real nail biter. The last chance went to the home side and on 78 minutes replacement fly-half Louis Strydom’s drop-goal attempt just went wide. This made the difference the Lions 100% goal kicking record from Hook.
Cheetahs 24 British & Irish Lions 26
Tries: Dumas, Du Preez, Uys Cons: Potgieter 2, Strydom Pen: Potgieter
British and Irish Lions
Tries: Ferris, Earls Cons: Hook 2 Pens: Hook 4
Cheetahs: H Daniller; D Demas, C Uys, M Bosman, JW Jonker; J-L Potgieter, T de Bruyn; W Du Preez, A Strauss, K Calldo, N Breedt, D de Villiers, H Brussow, F Uys, H Scholtz (capt).
Replacements: R Strauss, W P Nel, F Viljoen (for Breendt, 46), K Floors (for Scholtz, 64), G Odendaal (for De Bruyn, 44), L Strydom (for Potgieter), F Juries.
Lions: Lee Byrne (Ospreys & Wales); Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues & Wales), Keith Earls (Munster & Ireland), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster & Ireland), Shane Williams (Ospreys & Wales); James Hook (Ospreys & Wales), Harry Ellis (Leicester & England); Andrew Sheridan (Sale & England), Ross Ford (Edinburgh & Scotland), Euan Murray (Northampton & Scotland), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster & Ireland), Paul O’Connell (Munster & Ireland – capt), Stephen Ferris (Ulster & Ireland), Joe Worsley (Wasps & England), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues & Wales).
Replacements: Matthew Rees (Scarlets & Wales – for Ford, 62), Adam Jones (Ospreys & Wales – for Murray, 62), Nathan Hines (Perpignan & Scotland – for Hines, 67), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster & Ireland – for Fitzgerald, 75).
Not used: Simon Shaw (Wasps & England), Mike Blair (Edinburgh & Scotland), Ronan O’Gara (Munster & Ireland).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).