The British and Irish Lions battled their way past the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday, winning 26-24 in the third game of a 10-match tour of South Africa.
The Lions remain unbeaten after earlier getting the better of a Royal XV and the Golden Lions. They next face Super 14 powerhouse KwaZulu-Natal Sharks in Durban on Wednesday.
The Lions, showing several changes to the team that beat the Golden Lions 74-10 during the week, had to dig deep to secure their win and had luck been on the Cheetahs’ side, the team that finished the Super 14 in last place may just have got the better of their far more illustrious opponents.
Replacement fly-half Louis Strydom failed to convert a drop goal attempt in the dying minutes, which could have snatched a win for his team, while starting No. 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter failed with several penalty kicks at goal.
British and Irish Lions fly-half Welshman James Hook was the hero for his team, knocking over four penalties and two conversions.
Lions captain Paul O’Connell, who enjoyed a good outing in the second row, said that while he was happy with the win, his side’s second half showing was disappointing. The Lions’ only points in the half came via the boot of Hook, who knocked over a penalty on the 50-minute mark.
“I was pleased with the victory, but considering the position we were in after 20 minutes [20-0] we should have done better,” O’Connell said.
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