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Lions Slug Out Sixth Tour Win Against Kings

Lions Slug Out Sixth Tour Win Against Kings

Playing in their first competitive fixture in a new stadium, the Southern Kings put up a stubborn fight but an Ugo Monye try, a penalty try and 10 points from replacement Ronan O’Gara were enough for the British & Irish Lions to maintain their winning tour run in Port Elizabeth.

2009 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS TOUR: Tuesday, June 16

SOUTHERN KINGS 8 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS 20, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (Att: 35,883)

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Scorers: Southern Kings: Try: Mpho Mbiyozo; Pen: Jaco van der Westhuyzen
Lions: Tries: Ugo Monye, Penalty try; Cons: Ronan O’Gara 2; Pens: Ronan O’Gara 2

Ireland’s Ronan O’Gara was sprung from the bench for the injured James Hook and played an important role as the Lions got the better of the Southern Kings in a bruising encounter in front of the biggest crowd of the tour.

O’Gara kicked two penalty goals, floated a cross-field kick out for winger Ugo Monye’s try which he converted and he also added the extras to a penalty try for the tourists.

The result means the Lions will enter the Test series against the Springboks on the back of six successive victories.

Ian McGeechan’s men were made to work hard for this 20-8 triumph in sunny Port Elizabeth but the result sees the Lions travel to Durban with plenty of momentum.

With James Hook and Euan Murray leaving the pitch with injuries inside the opening quarter, the Lions had to rejig their side.

Hook was taken off as a precaution following a heavy knock, while Murray limped off with a strain to his right ankle.

Both players had been looking to press their claims for Test selection and it remains to be seen whether they will have made enough of an impression during their limited time on the field.

Monye’s try came after referee Nigel Owens had consulted with TMO Johann Meuwesen, following O’Gara’s well-weighted cross-field kick with 50 minutes on the clock.

The Harlequins winger out-muscled opposite man Matt Turner to win the race to the loose ball and claim his fourth score of the tour.

It initially appeared as though the 26-year-old may have knocked on as he attempted to pounce under severe pressure from England Sevens international Turner but, after plenty of deliberation, the Lions were awarded their first try of the match.

O’Gara’s superb touchline conversion kept his impressive tour record with the boot intact and moved the Lions two scores clear at 13-3.

The first half had ended just three points apiece after O’Gara and former Leicester out-half Jaco van der Westhuyzen had traded penalties but it was the hosts who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.

The home side, coached by former Ulster boss Alan Solomons, are desperate to win the race to be named as the additional team in next season’s newly-expanded Super 15 competition.

The Eastern Cape franchise did their chances no harm with a hugely physical and committed performance in front of a vocal crowd.

The Kings continually put the Lions under pressure at the breakdown and created try-scoring opportunities of their own, especially during a first 40 minutes in which they would have been disappointed not to have established some sort of lead.

The Lions produced a far better second half display, however, with their 68th minute penalty try just reward for their dominance in the scrum.

Under the tutelage of former England and Lions prop Graham Rowntree, the Lions have been particularly impressive in the set piece throughout the tour and, despite the early loss of Murray, today was no exception.

Trailing by just 10 points with 12 minutes remaining the Southern Kings were still very much in the game.

The Lions 100% record was on the line but skipper Donncha O’Callaghan’s decision to opt for successive scrums having been awarded a close range penalty effectively ended the Kings’ chances of an historic upset.

O’Callaghan, who was thrilled to captain the Lions for the first time, explained afterwards that the front five were in confident mood at that crucial period in the game and that the choice of a scrum rather than a lineout or straightforward kick at goal was an easy one to make.

The Munsterman signalled for the scrum and the Lions pack turned the screw to give referee Owens no option but to award the penalty try.

O’Gara’s routine conversion from directly underneath the uprights stretched the advantage to 17 points and, although the Kings hit back with a try from South African Sevens star Mpho Mbiyozo, the Lions had done enough to leave with yet another hard-fought win.

Britain and Ireland’s elite can now finally focus fully on this weekend’s first Test against the World champions.

After two-and-a-half weeks of warm-up fixtures, the business end of the tour is finally upon them.

Six victories from six attempts makes pleasant reading but seven from seven would really make the whole of South Africa sit up and take notice.

TIME LINE: 2 minutes – Southern Kings penalty: Jaco van der Westhuyzen – 3-0; 18 mins – Southern Kings sin-binning: Jaco van der Westhuyzen (dangerous tackle); 27 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Ronan O’Gara – 3-3; Half-time – Southern Kings 3 British & Irish Lions 3; 44 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Ronan O’Gara – 3-6; 50 mins – British & Irish Lions try: Ugo Monye – 3-11; conversion: Ronan O’Gara – 3-13; 62 mins – Southern Kings sin-binning: Ross Skeate (killing the ball); 63 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: missed by Ronan O’Gara – 3-13; 67 mins – British & Irish Lions try: Penalty try – 3-18; conversion: Ronan O’Gara – 3-20; 69 mins – Southern Kings try: Mpho Mbiyozo – 8-20; conversion: missed by Jaco van der Westhuyzen – 8-20; Full-time – Southern Kings 8 British & Irish Lions 20

SOUTHERN KINGS: Tiger Mangweni; Wylie Human, Frikkie Welsh, De Wet Barry, Matthew Turner; Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Francois Hougaard; Jaco Engels, Derick Kuun (capt), Ruan Vermeulen, Ross Skeate, Marco Wentzel, Solly Tyibilika, Mpho Mbiyozo, Darron Nell.

Replacements used: Bevin Fortuin for Welsh (8 mins), Dean Greylin for Vermeulen (10), Josh Fowles for Hougaard (41), Delarey du Preez for Engels (42-50, blood sub), Mzwandile Stick for Human (54), Dries van Schalkwyk for Tyibilika (64). Not used: Lungelo Payi.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland); Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England), Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster/Ireland), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland); James Hook (Ospreys/Wales), Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland); Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks/England), Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints/Scotland), Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster/Ireland) (capt), Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland), Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales).

Replacements used: Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales) for Murray (8 mins), Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland) for Hook (13), Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales) for Ford (64), Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales) for Monye (65). Not used: Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England), David Wallace (Munster/Ireland), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)