Emerging Springboks replacement Willem de Waal kicked a last-second conversion to seal a 13-13 draw with the British and Irish Lions in wind-swept conditions at Newlands on Tuesday.
In a match littered with knock-ons and dominated by kicking, often of poor quality, the Lions must have thought they had wrapped up a good confidence-booster after the 26-21 first Test loss in Durban and ahead of the second Test in Pretoria on Saturday.
Replacement James Hook hit a penalty with two minutes to play to stretch the visitors’ lead to 13-6, but the ’Boks came firing back, working the ball right to winger Danwel Demas who scooted in untroubled at the corner.
Local boy de Waal stepped up and calmly slotted the touchline conversion to break the hearts of the Lions, whose other points came from a Keith Earls try and five points from captain Ronan O’Gara’s boot.
Earl Rose earlier notched up two penalties for the Dick Muir-coached Emerging Springboks, but also missed two other attempts from close range, although nothing was made easy in the swirling winds and heavy rain showers.
The largely second-string Lions failed to capitalize on their overall control of territory and possession against a well-drilled set-piece pack, and few players put their hands up for inclusion in Saturday’s Test team.
“We controlled the game until the Emerging ’Boks got a great try at the end. The conditions were difficult, but we dominated territory and possession without putting enough points on the scoreboard,” O’Gara said. “I don’t believe the conditions suited us more than our opponents. I would have preferred a dry ball and firm underfoot conditions, but we paid the price for not building a bigger lead.”
Emerging ’Boks skipper Dewald Potgieter said: “I’m elated. We had only four training sessions and it was a great effort by a special group. We knew we had a chance if we got the first points of the second half and we did.”
O’Gara missed an early sitter from in front of the posts after holding on in the ruck, but finally got the dominant Lions on the scoreboard with a penalty after another ruck infringement in the ninth minute.
After 25 minutes, the Lions finally got the try they deserved, the harrying Martyn Williams charging down a Zane Kirchner kick and offloading to Gordon D’Arcy, who stepped back in.
From the resulting quick ruck ball, Earls glided through a rush defense for a try under the posts that O’Gara converted.
In torrential rain and blustery, cold winds, Springbok flyhalf Rose missed an ambitious 45m penalty that summed up the home side’s attacking intent of a dull opening quarter.
The Lions saw a chance at increasing their score go amiss when, with skiddy conditions underfoot, scrumhalf Harry Ellis lost his footing with the line begging and support on hand.
Riki Flutey offered a firm defensive hand, committing himself to several well-timed man-and-ball tackles, but was let down by support players knocking on in their eagerness to get their hands on the slippery ball.
The Lions were almost caught with five minutes of the first half to play, a quick tap penalty allowing Bjorn Basson to speed off down the right flank. A desperate tackle by Luke Fitzgerald was enough to rein him in and his offload went forward.
A Lions foul at a resulting ruck saw Rose kick a simple penalty to leave the halftime score 10-3 to the visitors.