Owen Farrell and Dan Biggar kick Lions to VICTORY over South Africa

The Lions have lift-off! Owen Farrell and Dan Biggar kick tourists to victory in the opening Test against world champions South Africa as they battle back late on after Faf de Klerk’s try in Cape Town

  • The British and Irish Lions came from behind to beat South Africa 22-17 in the first match of their summer tour
  • Warren Gatland’s side trailed the hosts 12-3 after conceding six penalties, with Handre Pollard kicking over 
  • The Lions came out firing in the second-half with Luke Cowan-Dickie going over – but Faf de Klerk hit back
  • Dan Biggar and Owen Farrell kicked over penalties for the tourists after South Africa showed ill-discipline

The British and Irish Lions benefited from poor second-half South African discipline and TMO official Marius Jonker to claim a precious 22-17 victory in their first Test of their summer tour. 

Warren Gatland’s side were themselves sloppy in the first-half and conceded six penalties in Cape Town, with Handre Pollard kicking over four times to give South Africa a 12-3 lead at the interval.   

But the Lions came out firing in the second-half with Luke Cowan-Dickie going over immediately after half-time and while Faf de Klerk put South Africa back in front by going over the line, Dan Biggar picked up on the hosts’ own ill-discipline to haul the tourists 19-17 ahead. 

The Lions took advantage of South Africa’s poor second-half ill-discipline to win the first Test of their tour 22-17 in Cape Town

Dan Biggar kicked Warren Gatland’s side to victory on Saturday after South Africa conceded several second half penalties

But TMO came to the Lions’ rescue when Damian de Allende went over late on for South Africa, but Jonker – who dominated the pre-series headline over potential bias – spotted a knock-on from Cheslin Kolbe and ruled the effort out. 

Owen Farrell came off the bench to kick over another penalty to open up a five-point lead and Gatland’s side held on for a vital first Test victory. 

South Africa were playing only their second international since lifting the 2019 World Cup but there was little sign of rustiness as their simple gameplan based around territory and forcing penalties initially unfolded as planned.

A fractured build-up that forced the entire Springboks squad to self-isolate for six days as well as key players such as Siya Kolisi and Pollard testing positive for coronavirus had no apparent impact as they played to their strengths beautifully.

The Cape Town encounter started strongly with some heavy tackles – including Lukhanyo Am on Elliot Daly in the first minutes

It was often an ugly spectacle and at times the Lions looked slightly lost, failing to gain a meaningful foothold up-front and with half-backs Ali Price and Biggar unable to provide direction.

But a dramatic swing took place early in the second half as South Africa’s discipline collapsed as a resurgent Lions began stamping their authority in every area while Biggar kicked the points.

The feared Springboks pack went from bullies to bullied and although the world champions hustled a try through Faf De Klerk, they looked vulnerable across the pitch.

The Lions bench came on to close out an arm wrestle of a series opener with Farrell, who had replaced Biggar, slotting a 79th-minute penalty.

A predictably ferocious opening saw swarming breakdown work by both teams interrupted by persistent kicking and a savage tackle by Lukhanyo Am on Elliot Daly.

Already the Lions were looking to play more rugby as typified by Anthony Watson attempting to run the ball out from his own 22, while South Africa were content to kick, mostly through De Klerk.

Pollard drew first blood with a penalty and when Tom Curry made a late tackle on De Klerk, he added another three points as an opening quarter controlled by the Springboks came to an end.

The Lions made many sloppy errors in the first-half, conceding six penalties including Tom Curry’s late tackle on Faf de Klerk

The world champions took advantage with Handre Pollard kicking over four times to establish a 12-3 lead for South Africa 

Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby, made his first appearance as a waterboy and soon after Biggar landed a penalty with the Lions benefiting from Maro Itoje’s predatory work at the breakdown.

But the tourists’ indiscipline was becoming a recurring problem as Pollard booted another six points to extend the lead to 12-3 while Biggar failed with a routine shot at goal.

A tense first-half neared its conclusion with Daly just falling short with a long-range penalty attempt and the Lions’ hearts were in their mouths when Robbie Henshaw stepped through a gap in defence and raced upfield until Willie Le Roux arrived to tackle the Ireland centre.

South Africa changed their entire front row at half-time but when play restarted they came under immediate pressure as Alun Wyn Jones opted for the corner rather than taking the points.

Warren Gatland’s Lions came out firing in the first minutes of the second half and Luke Cowan-Dickie went over straight away 

The ambition paid off as the Lions constructed an unstoppable line-out maul that swept them over the whitewash with Cowan-Dickie touching down.

Le Roux had a try disallowed for a marginal offside call when Am kicked ahead but TMO Marius Jonker had no issue with De Klerk’s 50th-minute try.

Makazole Mapimpi and Pieter-Steph Du Toit were heavily involved as the Lions failed to capitalise on a wild pass by Pollard and De Klerk arrived to poach the try from close range.

TMO official Marius Jonker ruled out a try for Willie Le Roux due to offside – the first of two second-half tries to be chalked off

Jonker did help award a try for Faf de Klerk in the second-half to hand South Africa a 17-13 lead in Cape Town

South Africa lost their cool and kept on conceding penalties – with three Dan Biggar penalties putting the Lions in front 

But successive penalties by Biggar that punished the Springboks for repeatedly straying offside kept the Lions in the hunt.

The momentum had now swung totally towards the tourists and for the first time they were ahead courtesy of Biggar’s boot, setting up nail-biting climax.

Nerves frayed once more when only a Cheslin Kolbe knock-on saw a Damian De Allende try chalked off and it was Farrell who had the final say. 

The hosts thought they had the lead back but Jonker spotted a knock on from Cheslin Kolbe (second right) in the build-up

Owen Farrell came off the bench to kick over to establish a 22-17 lead with Warren Gatland’s side holding on for a vital victory

Gatland’s Lions have now set the tone for what could be an excellent next fortnight of rugby ahead of Tests two and three

Sportsmail’s SAM BLITZ was on the live blog for the first Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions

Host commentator

What a night if you’re a Lions fan! What a few weeks we’re going to have as rugby supporters. What will the next few weeks bring?

Thanks for following all the action with us this evening. Stay tuned to the Sportsmail website for all the reaction to the Lions’ first Test and everything happening over in Tokyo 2020. 

What a performance from Warren Gatland’s side. Ill-discipline put them behind in the first-half but they responded by benefiting from sloppy conceded penalties from the hosts!

Dan Biggar kicked the Lions home, but performance of the night goes to Courtney Lawes – especially in that second half. Owen Farrell and Connor Murray did their bit off the bench as well. 

Brilliant resilience from the tourists and the gauntlet has been laid down for the rest of the series!

80 mins: Into the red! South Africa knock on! Lions clear… Stuart Hogg… YES! The Lions win the first Test!

79 mins: What a restart from the Springboks. Lukhanyo Am takes the punt forward and South Africa are in the Lions’ 22. This is not over yet…

77 mins: Penalty chance for the Lions. This could be huge. A seventh conceded penalty by South Africa this half.

Owen Farrell will use this to wind down the clock. Three points here would take the gap to five. South Africa would need to score a try to level, convert it to win it. 

Farrell… YES! The Lions inch closer! 

75 mins: The HIA is permanent which means Dan Biggar will not come back on. Elliot Daly stays on.

Five minutes left, Lions have possession on the half-way line. This could be a monumental victory if they can hold on…

Courtney Lawes, who has been monumental in this second half, is replaced by Tadhg Berine.


72 mins: Oh no! Robbie Henshaw what have you done? 

The Lions try to do too much in defence and Henshaw’s pass to Elliot Daly is short. And South Africa pounce. Bongi Mbonambi kicks the ball forward and Lukhanyo Am is underneath it. The ball falls to Damian de Allende who goes over.

But wait! Is there a knock-on? Yes! TMO spots something! Cheslin Kolbe competed with Duhan van der Merwe earlier in the game and slammed the ball down before Henshaw’s error. The try is ruled out and the Lions are off the hook. 

70 mins: Ten minutes left for the Lions to hold on. Ten minutes for South Africa, world champions South Africa remember, to show why they are the top team in the world. 

Who blinks first?

68 mins: Mako Vunipola has been excellent since he has come on. The Lions are under pressure defensively with a scrum in the tourists’ half, but the England man stands firm and South Africa concede a penalty for wheeling the scrum. 

This is nail-biting stuff. The first Test is on a knife-edge but the Lions are on the right side of the blade. 

67 mins: Dan Biggar is down here. He is looking very groggy after a very big hit. The Lions fly-half is undergoing a Head Injury Assessment and Elliot Daly is back on in his place. Owen Farrell moves to ten. 

This could be a big blow for the Lions…

66 mins: Here comes Owen Farrell. The England captain is on for Elliot Daly. Connor Murray also came on a few minutes ago for Lions scrum-half Ali Price. Kyle Sinckler is also brought in for Tadhg Furlong. 


64 mins: Oh Hamish Watson is in trouble here. Just as the Lions get back into defensive mode, Willie Le Roux collects the ball but the Lions substitute lifts him off the ground and above the horizontal, before crashing him to the floor.

Looks like a yellow card… but it’s not! Just a penalty. Handre Pollard tries to re-establish South Africa’s lead… but he misses to the left. It was a difficult kick but the South Africa fly-half does not miss many. 

63 mins: Another penalty to the Lions after South Africa make a mistake in the maul – and this is a chance to take the lead.

Dan Biggar – tight angle this time… it’s over! South Africa have been so ill-disciplined in this half – and the Lions have made them pay like the hosts did to them in the first-half!

Sport, eh?

60 mins: Nearly a way forward for the Lions! Courtney Lawes is excellent once again in earning a few yards for the tourists. The ball is recycled to Dan Biggar whose high kick into the 22 causes carnage. 

Robbie Henshaw is under it and he challenges with his own team-mate Duhan van der Merwe. The Irishman just touches the ball forward to his team-mate who goes down the left, but the referee spots the knock-on.

Twenty minutes – pick a winner, I dare you. 

57 mins: Some Lions changes. Ken Owens, Hamish Watson and Mako Vunipola are on the bolster the forward options. 

The Lions regain possession via a scrum near the half-way line which provokes Alyn Wyn Jones to scream “Come on!” to his team-mates. This could go either way. 

55 mins: And here comes the Lions again! Duhan van der Merwe is brilliant in defence to turnover and Courtney Lawes can hurdle several challenges to take the Lions into the South Africa half. 

South African concede another penalty! That’s five in 15 minutes. Makazole Mapimpi is the guilty party this time.

Dan Biggar in a central zone again – and it goes over! The gap is just one point now. 

53 mins: More points on the board and this time it’s for the Lions. The tourists win a penalty straight away after conceding the try and Dan Biggar makes no mistake this time.

Straight over the posts and the gap is reduced to four. What a fast start to this second half. 

50 mins: South Africa think they have another try. Faf de Klerk goes over underneath the posts. Makazole Mapimpi finds Pieter-Steph du Toit who may have fumbled the ball for a knock-on. 

Mapimpi gets back on the ball and offloads to de Klerk who goes over. A video check results in Marius Jonker awarding South Africa the try. Alun Wyn Jones is not happy.

But Handre Pollard misses his first kick of the game and the Lions are still within seven points of restoring parity. 

49 mins: What a start to this half! We’ve had to wait a long time for Lions action after some confusion as to whether the tour would go ahead – but what a contest we’ve got in this first Test.

Whatever Warren Gatland said to his side at half-time has worked. And how about this resilience that South Africa are finding! More of the same please. 

47 mins: Now then! South Africa think they find a response in their first attack of the half. 

Damian de Allende finds Lukhanyo Am who gets down the left and kicks forward for Willie Le Roux – who lands on the ball in the try line.

There’s a check to see if Le Roux is offside – and he is! Just! According to Marius Jonker, who dominated the pre-game headlines surrounding potential bias to South Africa!

Perhaps he will be on Warren Gatland’s Christmas card list after all!


The second Lions penalty of the half results in a maul and the forwards do their work near the line. Maro Itoje pushes the cluster of players towards home and Luke Cowan-Dickie puts the ball over after some confusion. 

It’s not pretty – but it’s vital. Dan Biggar just about kicks over and the Lions are within two points of parity. The Lions have dominated in this half. 

43 mins: South Africa give another penalty deep inside the 22 for a high tackle on Robbie Henshaw but the Lions are not going for goal. They kick into touch again.

There is serious momentum here early in the second-half. The tourists smell blood…

41 mins: We’re back underway in Cape Town – and the Lions start on the front foot!

Steven Kitshoff, just on in the South Africa front row, gives away a penalty. Just what Warren Gatland’s side needed and Dan Biggar kicks deep into the South Africa half.

Teams are back out for the second-half. The Lions will be hoping to start the second period in the same way they ended the half. 

South Africa have made changes, however, with their entire front row changed. 

Handre Pollard’s kicking at goal has been excellent in this opening half. Here’s how he registered the first point between the Lions and South Africa in this year’s tour…

Work to do for the Lions in this first Test. The tourists have not played badly but half a dozen conceded penalties has been a gift to South Africa.

Handre Pollard has made the Lions pay for four of those penalties and while Dan Biggar has got them points on the board – both him and Elliot Daly have missed efforts for three more points. 

40 mins: Oh what a chance for the Lions to get a late try in the first-half. 

Lions debutant Robbie Henshaw shows excellent power to burst towards the try line. He has a man to his left but Willie Le Roux makes an excellent last-ditch challenge from behind and the Irishman knocks on. 

That could have hauled the Lions right back into this tie on the stroke of the whistle. 

39 mins: Big penalty for the Lions right on the half-way line for a high tackle by Bongi Mbonambi on Alun Wyn Jones. This is Elliot Daly territory. 

The Lions centre gets the direction right but the ball falls just short of the posts and South Africa clear.

Another missed penalty for the Lions. 


36 mins: Disappointing from Dan Biggar Bongi Mbonambi is caught standing up in the ruck and South Africa concede a penalty.

It looks like a straightforward kick for Biggar despite a slightly tight angle but the Lions fly-half misses to the left of the posts.

Opportunity missed. How costly could that be?

33 mins: First real period of sustained pressure for the Lions inside the South Africa half.

Jack Conan does well to break some lines as the forwards look to get involved in the play. Speaking of forwards, Maro Itoje has been excellent in both attack and defence and is easily the Lions’ best player at the moment. 

Can the visitors get some points on the board before the half?

30 mins: South Africa are defending superbly and force the Lions to concede a sixth penalty in this half. 

Ali Price earns contact and Trevor Nyakane does well in the ruck and the Lions man cannot release.

Handre Pollard has another long-range kick but his penalty work continues to be perfect. Twelve points earned by the hosts in this half – all from silly Lions mistakes. 

26 mins: Elliot Daly concedes yet another penalty – that’s two he has given away at both ends of the pitch – for coming off his feet as South Africa launched an attack. 

Handre Pollard near the 22 – same result. South Africa’s lead is back to six and while the Lions are playing well at times, there have been some sloppy defensive moments. 

22 mins: First real moment of try line action as Siya Kolisi breaks through down the left. The South Africa contact goes to the deck just yards from the try line and Maro Itoje is first in at the ruck. 

The Lions get a penalty after Kolisi fails to release. Brilliant defending from the England man. 

20 mins: Now a break for the Lions mid-way through the half. The visitors win a penalty which Dan Biggar is underneath just inside the half-way line. 

It’s a big kick for the Wales fly-half but it’s central enough for Biggar to get through the posts. Deficit halved.

17 mins: Another penalty to South Africa. As Faf de Klerk was kicking, he was caught late by Tom Curry and the hosts can extend their advantage.

Handre Pollard is behind the effort once again, a little closer to home than his earlier effort and the result is the same. 

17 mins: A first chance for Faf de Klerk to kick the Lions into some danger.

The South Africa scrum-half punts the ball towards the Lions’ right hand side and Stuart Hogg is under it. The Scot slips and concedes a line-out.

That’s the danger the Lions need to look out for. 

14 mins: First points on the board go to the host. The Lions give away a penalty just inside their own half and Handre Pollard goes for goal. 

The South Africa fly-half edges his side in front on his 50th cap!

9 mins: Nearly another opening for Duhan van der Merwe, who looks to burst into space down the left hand side but there was a forward pass in the build-up. 

South Africa hold their first scrum of the afternoon. A fascinating battle between the two teams.

6 mins: The first key battle of the day sees Faf de Klerk try and get past Maro Itoje near the Lions 22. 

The South Africa scrum-half fumbles under presure from Itoje, which leads to Stuart Hogg clearing his lines on debut. 

Great pace to this match already, neither side can hold onto possession with some big hits already. 

4 mins: Wow! Lukhanyo Am absolutely takes out Elliot Daly near the half-way line just as the Lions were beginning to launch an attack.  

The Lions centre picks up a pass but Am takes no prisoners and forces a turnover so early in the game. 

Some big hits already in the opening five minutes. Tom Curry, Duhan van der Merwe and Am look up for this already. 

1 min: Nearly an opening for Duhan van der Merwe, who comes inside off the wing to collect a Dan Biggar high kick near the try line. 

Van der Merwe gives away a penalty trying to challenge the ball with Cheslin Kolbe and the hosts can clear to gain possession in the Lions half. 

0 mins: Time for action. Can the Lions beat the World Cup champions? Or will South Africa claim another major result?

Lions star Dan Biggar gets us underway in Cape Town…

The two teams are coming out of the tunnel. Alun Wyn Jones leads the Lions with the cuddly lion toy as fireworks burst out alongside them. 

For world champions South Africa, Handre Pollard is first out for them to recognise his 50th international cap. 

The talking is over. It’s time for the Lions Tour. 

Warren Gatland will be giving his final messages to his Lions squad, whether they be tactical or inspirational?

What would your final team talk to the Lions squad look like, as they prepare for one of the most memorable three matches of their lives?

Here’s your 15-minute warning for kick-off. The first Lions Test with South Africa is just edging ever closer.

It’s been highly publicised over the last few days and hours, but here’s a reminder of your two line-ups this afternoon…

South Africa: Le Roux, Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi, Pollard, De Klerk, Nche, Mbonambi, Nyakane, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Smith.

Replacements: Marx, Kitshoff, Malherbe, De Jager, Elstadt, H Jantjies, E Jantjies, Willemse.

The Lions: Hogg, A Watson, Daly, Henshaw, Van Der Merwe, Biggar, Price, Sutherland, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones (capt), Lawes, Curry, Conan.

Replacements: Owens, Sinckler, Beirne, H Watson, Murray, Farrell, L Williams.

So Warren Gatland has been forced into a late change with Rory Sutherland replacing prop Wyn Jones, who has a shoulder injury?

Despite that change, there will be several individual battles that could define this first Test. So who is coming into this first clash in the best form?

Sportsmail’s NIK SIMON produced a form guide for the Lions and South Africa on Friday, to outline where this game can be won and lost…

The two teams are warming up in Cape Town ahead of this tie – how important will these two men be this afternoon?

South Africa Faf de Klerk’s kicking will be key for the hosts, while Alun Wyn Jones will be the leader the Lions turn to throughout this contest.

While we’re delighted to see these Test matches going ahead in the current coronavirus climate, it’s a real shame that there will be no fans present inside the stadium for the three clashes.

Of course, there will be fans cheering on the players from all around the world – and supporters have been sending messages to the players through banners put up inside the Cape Town arena. 

Not sure about whether the Lions series is a big deal? Well, it’s so important that Price William himself has even tweeted about it!

The Duke of Cambridge does not use social media much but he came out this morning to wish Warren Gatland’s side all the best ahead of the first Test. 

The Queen’s grandson also paid tribute to Alun Wyn Jones, who is leading the side this evening despite suffering ligament damage so close to the Tour. 

Let’s hope the first Test this afternoon is as exciting and fiery as the build-up that both sides have produced in the past couple of weeks.

Jibes between the two sides have ranged from South Africa coaches acting as waterboys, complaints about TMO officials and winding up egos. 

Matters have reached boiling point in the past few weeks but now the talking can be done on the pitch. Who won the pre-match war of words?

Warran Gatland’s team suffered a big blow ahead of the first Test as Wyn Jones was ruled out after suffering a shoulder injury.

He picked up the injury during the Lions’ warm-up game against South Africa ‘A’ and was not cleared in time.

An injury for one leads to an opportunity for another player, as Rory Sutherland steps into the starting XV with Mako Vunipola on the bench.

South Africa: Le Roux, Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi, Pollard, De Klerk, Nche, Mbonambi, Nyakane, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Smith.

Replacements: Marx, Kitshoff, Malherbe, De Jager, Elstadt, H Jantjies, E Jantjies, Willemse.

The Lions: Hogg, A Watson, Daly, Henshaw, Van Der Merwe, Biggar, Price, Sutherland, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones (capt), Lawes, Curry, Conan.

Replacements: Owens, Sinckler, Beirne, H Watson, Murray, Farrell, L Williams.

And welcome to Sportsmail’s live coverage of South Africa versus the British and Irish Lions.

There had been a lot of doubts surrounding the Lions’ tour this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but the players are in South Africa and they will lock horns for the first match in Cape Town today.

Kick-off is at 5pm – stay with us for all the build-up!

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