HomeRugbyWATCH: Lions 1st Test v South Africa 2009

WATCH: Lions 1st Test v South Africa 2009

The British and Lions will play South Africa for the first time in 12 years on Saturday evening after completing their warm-up tests.

The team selected by Warren Gatland and his selectors scream set-piece play, which is a big strength of Rassie Erasmus’ South Africa side.

It is an aspect of the game that has been woven into the DNA of South African throughout time, with the first test in 2009 being a great example of that.

One thing the 2021 Lions will not want to do is reveal their trick plays too early like Ian McGeechan’s 2009 team did after seven minutes in Durban.

Their (fantastic) move was stopped on the try-line by Jean De Villiers and that moment set the tone for the first half – frustration.

Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira dominated the Lions and was a living, breathing nightmare for Lions tighthead Phil Vickery.

Their lineout was filled with easy targets to win the ball, including Victor Matfield.

Stephen Jones, although brilliant on the ball when the Lions fought back, missed some early penalties, which would have won them the game had they gone over.

Francois Steyn, who is in the 2021 Springbok squad, and former Ulster star Ruan Pienaar shone with their territorial kicking, constantly applying pressure to the Lions’ starting fullback Lee Byrne.

When Rob Kearney entered the fray, things got better for the 2009 Lions but they were down 26-7 after 50 minutes.

The touring side’s best moments in the game came from their centre partnership, Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll.

Parallels can be drawn to the upcoming Lions centre partnership of Henshaw and Daly and the 2009 duo.

Roberts, much like Henshaw, is a world-class crash-ball option that can use his power to burst through defensive lines.

Daly is a facilitator, an extra wide man – not on the level of Brian O’Driscoll, but is anyone?

Brian O’Driscoll’s mazy runs and Roberts’ steamrolling carries brought life into a deflated Lions side in the first test in 2009.

Tom Croft benefitted from O’Driscoll’s mazy runs and scrum-half distributor Mike Phillips also got over the line thanks to a space the Lions were able to open up with their physicality in the final 30 minutes.

The Springboks’ physicality proved to be too much to handle for most of the first test but the lack of a bomb squad let McGeechan’s men back into it.

However, their trick plays, namely O’Driscoll using a dummy runner to open up space for himself and an inventive lineout involving Jamie Heaslip did not go to plan.

Ugo Monye was unable to convert a second time late into the game, having been the final person in the first trick play.

Gatland will have to wait for the right time to play his cards right in this tour if he is to avoid the mistakes that were made in 2009.

The 2009 Lions could have won the series without those mistakes against the 2007 World Champions.

A repeat of the same scenarios will only spell disaster.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales), 14 Tommy Bowe (Ospreys/Ireland), 13 Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland), 12 Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales), 11 Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England), 10 Stephen Jones (Scarlets/Wales), 9 Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales), 8 Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland), 7 David Wallace (Munster/Ireland), 6 Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England), 5 Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland – captain), 4 Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), 3 Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), 2 Lee Mears (Bath/England), 1 Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales).

Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), 17 Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales), 18 Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster/Ireland), 19 Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales), 20 Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England), 21 Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland), 22 Rob Kearney (Leinster/Ireland).

South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Adi Jacobs, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Jaque Fourie, 22 Morné Steyn.

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