The British and Irish Lions survived a major scare to defeat Western Province (WP) in Cape Town and remain unbeaten after five matches in South Africa. Maybe the conditions had an effect, but certainly it was nip and tuck all the way through. WP let the Lions know they were in a struggle as early as the 3rd minute when Willem De Waal kicked his first penalty for offside. 5 minutes and the roles reversed as Stephen Jones kicked for the Lions for the same offence, 3-3. The next two scores were both drop goals for WP one on 18 minutes from De Waal and another on 26 from Joe Pietersen 9-6. The next period was all Lions as first Tommy Bowe scored on 27 minutes and then Ugo Monye on 34, the latter being converted by Jones and the score moving to 9-18. Right on half time WP kicked a penalty through De Waal and so we went in at 12-18.
The second half and it was the home side mounting pressure as they missed a penalty on 45 minutes but converted on 46 to close the gap to 15-18. We then thought that the Lions were taking a grip as following solid forward play Martyn Williams went over in the corner on 55 mins 18-23. 4 mins later and a soft penalty closed the gap to 18-23 and then Pietersen took his chance on 63 minutes to level the score. De Waal was unable to convert and when Hook who had just come on the field was unable to convert a penalty at 64 minutes we wondered if the first draw was on the cards. However as the play ebbed and flowed Hook had another chance this time long left with 5 minutes left to play and he nailed it 23-26. The last 5 minutes the Lions asserted better control though WP did have a couple of chances but from deep. So this tight encounter ended with the final score of:
Western Province 23-26 Lions
Pens: De Waal 4 Drops: De Waal, Pietersen Tries: Pietersen
British and Irish Lions
Tries: Bowe, Monye, M Williams Cons: Jones
Pens: Jones 2, Hook
Lions: Rob Kearney (Leinster/Ireland); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys/Ireland), Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland), Riki Flutey (Wasps/England), Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England); Stephen Jones (Scarlets/Wales), Harry Ellis (Leicester/England); Andrew Sheridan (Sale/England), Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster/Ireland), Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland), Joe Worsley (Wasps/England), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales).
Replacements: Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland), Euan Murray (Northampton/Scotland), Simon Shaw (Wasps/England), Tom Croft (Leicester/England), Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales), James Hook (Ospreys/Wales), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster/Ireland).
Western Province: Joe Pietersen; Tonderai Chavhanga, Morgan Newman, Peter Grant, Gcobani Bobo; Willem De Waal, Dewaldt Duvenage; Wicus Blaauw, Tiaan Liebenberg, Brok Harris, Martin Muller, Anton Van Zyl, Pieter Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Luke Watson (captain).
Replacements: Hanyani Shimange, JD Moller, De Kock Steenkamp, Zandre Jordaan, Conrad Hoffmann, JJ Engelbrecht, Gio Aplon.