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SA rugby wrap – 23 – 27 July 2021

Heartache for Springboks and SA Sevens.

Siviwe Soyizwapi - Rugby Sevens
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Lions make it 1-0 over the Boks, SA Sevens knocked out by 6-man Argentina and a few minor changes for the second test. 

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Lions make it 1-0 over Boks

The British & Irish Lions’ 22-17 win over the Springboks in the first Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday has been dissected by plenty over the course of the last few days. Despite traling 12-3 at the break, the Lions’ second-half tactics totally changed the dynamic of the contest, and the Boks’ inability to deal with the tourists’ aerial game ultimately cost them. To put into perspective just how crucial that result was: not since the Australia tour of 1989 has a side managed to lose the series after winning the first Test. On top of that, the Lions have lost just two series ever after winning the first Test (1930 in New Zealand and 2001 in Australia).

Warren Gatland has named a changed Lions squad, with Connor Murray, Chris Harris and Mako Vunipola coming into the starting XV. Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus will have it all to do to keep the series alive this weekend. But, with the Boks’ backs against the wall, you’d expect them to come back stronger.

SA Sevens knocked out by 6-man Argentina in Tokyo quarterfinal

Argentina produced a superhuman performance to send South Africa packing at the Olympic Sevens quarterfinals on Tuesday, claiming a 19-14 win in spite of being shown a red card. Gaston Revol was given his marching orders early in the first-half after cynically impeding Selvyn Davids, but the South Americans still managed to take a surprise 14-7 lead into the break. They scored again after half-time and despite receiving a yellow card and conceding a penalty try late on, managed to hold on for a famous win.

It has been a tough time in Tokyo for the South Africans, with head coach Neil Powell forced to quarantine and missing the event after testing positive for Covid on arrival. However there will still be plenty of opportunities ahead for this youthful and inexperienced squad, despite such a disappointing showing here.

Minor changes for second Test

Both Warren Gatland and Jacques Nienaber have made a few minor tweaks to their matchday squads ahead of this weekend’s titanic second Test match. An injury to Ox Nche sees Steven Kitshoff, set to earn his 50th cap, come into the No 1 shirt alongside Stormers teammate Frans Malherbe, who replaces Trevor Nyakane. Jasper Wiese replaces Kwagga Smith at No 8 in the final change to the run-on side, while a reshuffle on the bench sees the Boks revert to a 6-2 split, with Elton Jantjies and Rynhardt Elstadt dropping out of the matchday squad. New faces amongst the substitutes include Vincent Koch and Marco van Staden.

For the Lions, Mako Vunipola usurps Rory Sutherland at loosehead, Connor Murray replaces Ali Price at scrumhalf and Chris Harris is the new outside centre, replacing Elliot Daly. There is no place for Liam Williams on the bench. Six Nations Player of the Year Hamish Watson drops out of the match 23 with Taulupe Faletau preferred.

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