The Springboks have beaten the British and Irish Lions 27-9 in the second test in Cape Town to square the series.
Warren Gatland’s hopes of maintaining his record of never losing a series as Lions coach will now hinge on the outcome of the third test next weekend.
The Lions won the first test 22-17, but were outplayed in the second encounter on Saturday (Sunday NZ time).
South Africa – led brilliantly by captain Siya Kolisi – scored two tries in the second spell and kept the Lions scoreless after the interval.
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Lions flyhalf Dan Biggar kicked three penalties in the first spell to two by South African counterpart Handre Pollard.
The 40-minute first half took an hour to complete with both sides testing each other out and trying New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe’s patience.
Both sides lost a player to a yellow card in the first half, with the Lions’ South African wing Duhan van der Merwe sinbinned for a trip and South African flyer Cheslin Kolbe for tackling a player in mid-air.
The Lions had a late first half try disallowed to midfielder Robbie Henshaw when Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi managed to rip the ball away on the line.
However, Warren Gatland’s side rarely threatened to score thereafter.
The Springboks dominated the second half and hit the lead in the 45th minute when Pollard cleverly kicked for the corner and man of the match wing Makazole Mapimpi scooped up the ball, smashed past Lions fullback Stuart Hogg and touched down for a 11-9 lead.
Biggar struck the post with a penalty attempt which would have restored the Lions’ lead.
South Africa extended their lead in the 62nd minute through a try to midfield back Lukhanyo Am after another pinpoint tactical kick, this time from busy Boks halfback Faf de Klerk.
Another Pollard penalty in the 71st minute gave the Springboks a 12-point buffer and he added his fifth penalty of the game in the final seconds.
AT A GLANCE
Springboks 27 (Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am tries; Handre Pollard 5 pen, con) British and Irish Lions 9 (Dan Biggar 3 pen). HT: 6-9. Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ).