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South Africa 9-26 British Isles

Boet Erasmus Stadium, Port Elizabeth
13 July 1974
South Africa : Pens: Snyman (3)
British Isles: Tries: Brown, JJ Williams (2); Con: Irvine ; Pens: Irvine (2); DGs: Bennett (2)

The indomitable Lions of 1974 went into the third Test against South Africa with 17 straight victories to their name and leading the series 2-0, having inflicted a record defeat on the Springboks in the second international.

To become the first side ever to win a four-match series in South Africa , though, they knew they would face their toughest challenge yet as the beleaguered Boks made their desperate last stand in Port Elizabeth .

The South African selectors' panic in making 11 changes from the second Test meant the Lions were always likely to be the more cohesive team. But the home side's selections - typified by the choice of number eight Gerrie Sonnekus at scrum-half - gave an early warning of the physical, no-frills approach they would adopt.

The Lions gave as good as they got, however, in what was the most ferocious match of the series, punctuated by a mass brawl in each half and the departure as a casualty of Springbok enforcer Moaner van Heerden.

The first whistle unleashed the Boks' tension in an all-out attack on the Lions' line and a dizzying first five minutes ended with Jackie Snyman kicking the first of his three penalties.

Quickly, though, the tourists' pack, and particularly its front row of Ian McLauchlan, Bobby Windsor and Fran Cotton, began to crush their hosts. By half-time, following an Andy Irvine penalty and a Gordon Brown try at a shortened line-out, the Lions were back in the driving seat.

With the wind and sun on their backs, Willie John McBride's men put the game beyond doubt in the third quarter, Irvine landing the psychological blow of a penalty from inside his own half, Phil Bennett dropping a goal and JPR Williams creating a try for namesake JJ.

At 19-3 the series was in the bag and although Snyman kicked two late penalties for South Africa , JJ Williams' pace in pursuit of his kick ahead earned him his second try and the Lions' third. South Africa 's margin of defeat was the second largest in their history.

The Lions had played more rugby in the second Test, but the victory at Port Elizabeth was the one that gave them their unique place in the history books.

South Africa: OA Roux, CF Pope, PA Cronje, JJJ Schlebusch, GH Muller; JCP Snyman, GHH Sonnekus; NSE Bezuidenhout, JFB van Wyk, JFK Marais (capt), JL van Heerden (KBH de Klerk), J de Bruyn, TT Fourie, JH Ellis, JL Kritzinger.

British Isles: JPR Williams; AR Irvine, IR McGeechan, RA Milliken, JJ Williams; P Bennett, GO Edwards; J McLauchlan, RW Windsor, FE Cotton, WJ McBride (capt), GL Brown, RM Uttley, JF Slattery, TM Davies.





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