British & Irish Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones said his side answered all the questions asked them after last week’s tour defeat to South Africa A as he celebrated a famous first Test victory over the world-champion Springboks on Saturday night.
The Lions came from 12-3 down at half-time to win the opening game of this three-Test series 22-17 at Cape Town Stadium with a masterly second-half performance spearheaded by the tenacity of man of the match Maro Itoje, ably assisted by Robbie Henshaw and Courtney Lawes and a kicking game and set-piece that improved markedly in the second period to dominate the Springboks.
Luke Cowan-Dickie scored the first try of the game on 43 minutes, converted by Dan Biggar before the Boks hit back through a Faf de Klerk try but Handré Pollard, who had slotted all four of his first-half penalty kicks, missed the conversion and a subsequent penalty while Biggar kicked all three of his as home disciplined splintered and replacement Owen Farrell kicked the Lions home with another penalty two minutes from time.
“I’ve a lot of respect for the South Africans and the legacy they’ve had in the series that the Lions have faced against South Africa. We had a few questions after that South Africa A game and we needed to answer them,” captain Jones told South Africa’s Supersport TV.
“We’re all too aware that this is the first game in a series of three.” Asked what had been said at half-time to help changed the game around for the Lions, Jones said: “Probably not forcing as much on the kick counter. We stayed in the kicking battle a bit longer and got our dividends and then the set-piece came into the game, was more prevalent in the latter stages. We had to stay in those exchanges for longer and we got the reward.” Speaking about his own remarkable comeback from a dislocated shoulder sustained just 28 days ago, the 36-year-old playing his 10th consecutive Lions Test said: “Yeah, it’s credit to what the Lions is about and the group and particularly the group we’ve got here at the moment. I wanted to work hard to get back, I knew I had a chance and I’m just grateful to be able to be here.”