|South Africa: (6) 27|
|Tries: Mapimpi, Am Con: Pollard Pens: Pollard 5|
|British and Irish Lions: (9) 9|
|Pens: Biggar 3|
The British and Irish Lions’ series with South Africa will go to a decider after the Springboks won a fiery second Test 27-9 at Cape Town Stadium.
The Lions led after a cagey first half as Dan Biggar’s three penalties trumped Handre Pollard’s two, while a player from each side went to the sin-bin.
But a stylish Makazole Mapimpi try gave the world champions a narrow two-point lead at the start of the second half.
The hosts continued to dominate and Lukhanyo Am’s score sealed victory.
Pollard scored three more penalties to further put the Lions in their place after the tourists won the first Test 22-17.
Both sides will have to raise their level once again in what promises to be a thrilling series decider on Saturday, 7 August.
Referee O’Keeffe forced into the limelight
South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus had made himself the centre of attention during the week by posting an unprecedented hour-long video monologue critiquing referee Nic Berry’s work in the Lions’ opening win.
Erasmus’ act also threw the spotlight on Ben O’Keeffe, who took charge of the second Test.
The New Zealander was put through his paces by two emotionally charged sides, with 40 minutes of first-half playing time taking 62 minutes to complete because of stoppages needed for officiating decisions.
Tensions boiled over after just two minutes as Alun Wyn Jones and Eben Etzebeth stared each other down and players from both sides faced off around them.
Pollard and Biggar exchanged penalties, before an uncharacteristic miss by the South Africa 10 as the Lions took a 6-3 lead.
Then the story became as much about the players leaving the field as those still on it. First 2019 world player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit exited with a shoulder injury, replaced by the much less experienced Kwagga Smith.
The Lions were dealt a bigger blow when Duhan Van der Merwe was given a yellow card for his trip on Cheslin Kolbe.
But Kolbe followed two minutes later after he took Conor Murray out in the air – an action that prompted players from both sides to pile into another scrap and a telling off for both captains from O’Keeffe, who promised more yellow cards if the behaviour continued.
Pollard levelled things with an impressive 54m kick, before the Lions had a try ruled out as Siya Kolisi held the ball up when Robbie Henshaw tried to get it to ground after taking a chip ahead.
The tourists were brought back for an earlier penalty and Biggar slotted his third to give the Lions a three-point advantage at the break.
Resurgent South Africa claim victory
The Lions were hoping to go 2-0 up in a series for the first time since 1997 – the year the tourists last claimed a series win in South Africa.
Warren Gatland’s side had turned a 12-3 deficit into victory in the opening Test but the tables were turned this time around.
Pollard began the game-changing move as he faked a long pass then pulled back and chipped the ball across to Mapimpi, who sliced inside the cover to score.
The fly-half’s missed conversion could have proved costly when Biggar got another shot on goal, but the Lions 10’s effort hit the left post and bounced backwards.
Biggar tested the Springboks with high balls but they were up for the challenge and when Faf de Klerk sent a few back, it was the Lions who faltered.
The Sale scrum-half chipped a ball through for Am and the centre’s grounding was perhaps O’Keeffe’s most contentious decision.
Am managed to reach the ball before it went dead and South African television match official Marius Jonker brought up replays of the Springbok touching the ball down with his forearm.
O’Keeffe deemed it to be a controlled grounding and any hope the Lions had of getting back into the game was further extinguished by nine points from Pollard’s boot.
Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones gathered his players into a huddle at full-time for what was undoubtedly a rousing speech as they turn their attention to a high-stakes decider.
Man of the match – Makazole Mapimpi
British & Irish Lions: Hogg; A Watson, Harris, Henshaw, Van der Merwe; Biggar, Murray; Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones, Lawes, Curry, Conan.
Replacements: Owens, Sutherland, Sinckler, Beirne, Faletau, Price, Farrell, Daly.
South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi, Du Toit, Wiese
Replacements: Marx, Nyakane, Koch, De Jager, Van Staden, Smith, H Jantjies, Willemse.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)