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Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Saturday, 20 June 2009 11:59 UK

SA v Lions 1st Test as it happened

Result: South Africa 26-21 Lions



To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Ben Dirs

1615: Right, thanks for reading and chatting. Still a bit gutted, but at least the Lions did enough in the second half to give us hope for next week. Make sure you tune in again...

broken1904 on 606 "The Lions backs easily outplayed the South Africa backs, it was the scrum and lineout which lost it. Mears and Vickery were abysmal. We could have won it with some better discipline and Jones hitting those penalties. Pressure got to him."

Lions coach Ian McGeechan "We had given ourselves a hill to climb - but with the rugby in the second half, I thought that in the last eight minutes we might just nick it. We broke them consistently, 60% territory, 60% ball, pretty effective.

"The penalties killed us in the first half. I thought we would get one last opportunity. The penalties took the momentum away from us and without playing too much rugby, South Africa got points on the board.

"It's all to play for Pretoria. We have to be more accurate, but with that attacking rugby... I'm hugely proud of our rugby, it was high quality rugby."

RugbymadRick on 606 "I think Vickery is being hard done by here. The Beast was blatantly boring in and not binding straight and the ref should have picked it up and penalised him, not Vickery!"

UlsterExile99 on 606 "Hugely encouraging at the end. I wouldn't blame the ref. We would have won if we had put away one of the three missed opportunities when over the line or Jones had kicked his goals. Not to worry chaps. Chin up. We'll do them next week."

Monty on 606 "Monye was unlucky. Two brilliant pieces of defence stopped him from scoring. You can't blame him for the defeat in the slightest.

"Vickery was dire. Adam Jones for the start next week. Tom Croft was excellent, as were the centres. The signs are there, in the end though, as POC said, the penalties really cost us."

Lions skipper Paul O'Connell "We just ran out of time. I think the ref gave that many penalties against us that you don't really stand a chance. It was a killer, some were our fault, but some were not.

"We were playing quite well and doing what we planned. We got over the gain line but we conceded two bad tries. But the scores from the penalties killed us. If we could have kept the penalty count down we would have had a chance.

We are encouraged, we played a good brand of rugby but as I've said before, the penalties killed us."

Deejay, Falkirk, via text on 81111 "I take it that the ref left his yellow card at home. How many more penalties was he going to let the Boks concede in the last 15 right in front of their own posts?"

Tigmeister76 on 606 "Too many penalties from us have cost us dear! Discipline is gone and still the ref has not given us a yellow card. I don't think he is biased at all. Vickery was destroyed in the scrum. Well done South Africa who took the chances they were served on a platter. Not difficult to analyse!"

blueboyrob on 606 "The Boks defended awesomely today, on another day Monye would have got one, maybe two tries and Jones at least another six points. Lions can improve by cutting out individual mistakes, not really sure how much the Boks can improve.

"I would start the next Test the way we ended this game except bring Shane Williams in for Monye because regardless of form, he will finish opportunities. And O'Gara in for Jones because kicking points are invaluable."

HumanCashPoint on 606 "A moral victory for the Lions... the ref gave the Boks that game... Empty victory when you have to win a game with the help of an appalling referee!"

1552: Magnificent rear-guard action from the Lions there, and you have to say Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll were magnificent. All the talk was of the South Africans being undercooked - in the first half they made a mockery of that prediction, in the second they looked as raw as sashimi. Unfortunately for the Lions, they retained their backbone...

Du Plessis with the throw, Bekker takes... and off it goes... the world champions taken to the brink, but they just hold on...

79 mins: Stolen line-out! But the Boks knock-on! Hint of off-side, and the South Africans look desperate, calling for the penalty which doesn't come... the Lions go right... but the referee whistles for holding in the tackle and that looks like that... clearance from Pienaar...

77 mins: Roberts through again, the man has been a colossus. The ball off-loaded, but there's Frans Steyn with the intercept, with Bowe hovering. Bit of whiplash for O'Driscoll, catching his head on the back of Spies, but the Ireland legend - and he's been just that today - is not going anywhere... that's a bit conservative from Jones with the penalty kick for territory...

76 mins: This is Rope-a-Dope all over again - the Boks are swinging wildly in the middle of the ring, and the Lions are landing with blows. Another mistake, Ricky Januarie dropping the high ball...

75 mins - TRY SOUTH AFRICA 26-21 LIONS
Lordy, the ball swept right this time, Jones makes a half-break, the ball is popped to Monye, but he hesitates, neither going for the line or spotting the men wide, and the chance is gone. Pienaar back on, Morne Steyne goes to full-back, Frans Steyn goes to inside-centre... HERE COMES ROBERTS! NO! HELD UP SHORT! BUT HERE'S PHILLIPS, DUMMY, THE BOKS BACKLINE BUY IT - HE'S IN FROM CLOSE RANGE! JONES COVERTS!

73 mins: That should have been a try there - big tackle, but maybe he should have been carrying that in two hands. But the Lions are still camped on the Boks line... scrum time...

72 mins: The South Africans blowing a bit here, can the Lions land another significant blow and leave the hosts tottering? The red waves keep coming, as O'Driscoll flips inside blind... Matthew Rees plunges a broadsword into the Boks defence and the Lions win yet another penalty... the Lions go left, the South African defence unravels like an old sweater... Roberts swings it wide... MONYE IN! NO! He's tackled just short and he loses the ball.

68 mins - TRY SOUTH AFRICA 26-14 LIONS
The forwards, banging their heads against the South Africa defence like irate rams, can't break through, so the Lions go left. Roberts barrels through, the ball goes right, and O'Driscoll spots thE gap and puts Croft in for his second try of the match from short-range. Hope, Jones kicks the extras...

67 mins: Neat hands from Jones, dabbing the ball to Bowe, and on comes Martyn Williams for David Wallace. Decent phase this for the Lions, but it's like chipping away at granite with a plastic knife and fork... Williams goes for the pick up and shove, but comes up short...

64 mins: Scrum, Phillips to Roberts, and it takes too men to take him down... O'Driscoll takes the rugby league route, but Bowe is unable to take it. Forced into that, O'Driscoll, the South African defence just too much. Ruan Pienaar, who's been strutting around like a peacock, is off, replaced by Morne Steyn, on debut...

62 mins: Far too slow from the Lions at the breakdown, but they do win a penalty in front of the Springbok posts...

60 mins: Pienaar threads a doozy of a right boot through and the Lions have a line-out a few metres out. Phillips clears, straight down Pietersen's gullet, but that's good chasing from O'Driscoll and Roberts... the Lions go right, Bowe is bounced into the advertising boards, and replacement Andries Bekker, all 6ft 10in of him, throws a couple of right crosses for good measure. This is like watching a fifth form team playing a first XV a times...

58 mins: Roberts is having a good game, and he breaks through again. The Lions go left and Croft goes on a gallop. Cross-kick, but Habana twists and turns and releases and Steyn kicks clear.

57 mins: The South African line-out is one for the aesthetes, Matfield rising from the green and red melee with all the symmetry of a synchronised swimmer before plucking the ball from the air. Good take from Kearney, Lions scrum.

55 mins: Sighs all round... the touch judge has spotted Rees gubbing Habana while the South Africa winger was on the ground, and there are just too many chances slipping away...

54 mins: Gloria! Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Lions penalty, and here's O'Driscoll, darting here and there like a cornered hamster. Spies drives Jenkins back in the tackle, nice switch between Roberts and O'Driscoll, who have still gelled in nasty circumstances. Kearney down the right flank, chooses not to use Monye... great angle from Bowe, bouncing off Smith and plunging through the Boks defence, but he's brought down five metres short...

51 mins: Biltong driving from Spies from the back of the scrum, Pienaar clears and he clears with clarity. The Lions at leats getting their mitts on the ball a bit more, but O'Driscoll is robbed at the breakdown and pinged for holding on.

Tom Shanklin on Scrum V "Martyn Williams probably won't come on in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but he could be the link between forwards and backs."

50 mins: Phillips spots a gap, is hauled down just short... he reaches, the ball is tapped out of his hand by Botha, and it looks like no try... indeed, it's a scrum five, green ball... Mears off, on comes Matthew Rees of Wales.

48 mins: Steyn pops the ball into the hand of Phillips, who slips the ball through off the left boot. Miracle of miracles, the Lions get a shove on in the scrum, before O'Driscoll goes slashing through the Boks midfield...

45 mins - TRY - SOUTH AFRICA 26-7 LIONS
The Lions are having their wings pulled off in Durban, another penalty, and now South Africa aren't even bothering kicking their pens - kick to the corner from Pienaar, they rumble over from five metres out, and it's Heinrich Brussow who comes up with the ball. Pienaar slots the extras, the Lions pack will need counselling after this.

44 mins: The Boks have got the rolling maul under way, and they've taken it 20 metres, into the Lions half. The Lions pack look like minnows swarming all over an advancing whale, and that's a huge psychological blow. The Lions just took one to the Jacob's there... on comes Adam Jones for Vickery...

43 mins: Pienaar puts Kearney in some difficulty in his own 22, but that's a boomer from the Ireland full-back, he put manners on that and the Lions have territory.

42 mins: Too many penalties at the breakdown... the Lions pinged again for Vickery going off his feet, and Pienaar cocks the hammer... Du Plessis throws Vickery judo style, and gives away a penalty...

41 mins: Players are back out, and Stephen Jones gets us under way...

Nathan via text on 81111 "I still see some positives for the Lions. True, we're getting murdered in the swcrum but our line breaks are impressive. I honestly think we'll come back into it in the second half."

rhiannan05 on 606 "Tommy Bowe is trying to do too much. Play your normal game, you are incredible when you do the subtle. Vickery is struggling, but not sure how much is him and how much the ref. We are struggling now if a winger or centre has to come off. Come on boys, we can still do it."

Kernow-T on 606 "Vickery's getting a rough deal, Beast is dropping his binding or not driving straight - seriously, ref needs a lesson."

JimPansy on 606 "Two things are patently clear - Mike Phillips is not good enough for this level, and either Ellis or preferably Blair will play next Test. Secondly, Euan Murray's injury has all but killed the Lions tour hopes, as Vickery is getting an absolute doing. He's a thug and a brute, but you don't want to ever see a guy getting humiliated in the scrum like this."

deejay24ok on 606 "That first half was a mess from the Lions and they'll need a miracle the way it's going. They're just all over the place. I give them a massive chance in these next two Tests because by then they'll know exactly what to expect."

Pietersen swivels at the back of a ruck and kicks into the touch, the action of a man who knows his team have already done enough, in this half at least... when the Lions can get it out to the backs, they look threatening, unfortunately they are being roasted at the set-piece. Actually, they're being skinned, gutted, thrown on the chopping block, and then roasted...

38 mins: This is painful viewing at scrum-time, Vickery, as they say in the boxing game, being made to look old overnight. He's not taking the bind, dropping his right shoulder and folding in, and it's proving devastating, although Pienaar finally misses one. Byrne has a heel problem, I'm told...

37 mins: You know things are going badly when Brian O'Driscoll is shelling the ball - the Boks then turn the ball over and take it right, Pietersen knocks on, and the referee should have played advantage there as Jones pounced on the loose ball. On comes Kearney for Byrne...

35 mins - PENALTY SOUTH AFRICA 19-7 LIONS Guttural roars of "THE BEAST" as loose-head Tendai Mtawarira goes on a rumble... another howitzer from Pienaar, Bowe tip-toes here and there before disappearing up his own shorts, and he's pinged for holding on... Pienaar bends one in from the left... Everest? It's looking like a mission to Mars at the moment...

Vickery gives away another penalty at scrum time, before shaking his head in bemusement. The England man is being worked over here, and it's proving costly... Pienaar makes no mistake from in front of the sticks...

29 mins: The Boks have lost it slightly here - this time they try to go left and De Villiers is unable to take the ball in with one hand. More ping-pong, and that's not great from Byrne, kicking straight down Steyn's throat. The Boks run it back, and that's a meaty hit from Wyn Jones and the Lions win the scrum...

27 mins: Another penalty chance for Frans Steyn from the halfway line - Paul O'Connell off his feet at the breakdown - but it's not all going right for the hosts now, the young man hooking well left.

25 mins: Cheer for the Lions, Ruan Pienaar knocking on from a long kick. They're not out of this yet - when they get it out to the three-quarters, they can make things happen... as if to prove the point, the Lions are nearly in again... O'Driscoll out right again, he puts Bowe in... but the Lions are whistled for crossing, with Byrne mis-timing his run and taking out the Boks centres...

South Afrcia cut the line-out and Paul O'Connell nicks one... Jamie Roberts shows and thrusts through the heart of the Boks defence like a stiletto, O'Driscoll is on his shoulder, he steps off his right, off-loads to Croft, and the blind-side rolls over for the score. Relief all round... Jones shrugs off his whisky legs and slots the extras...

This couldn't really have started much worse for the Lions - they're rather wilting in the face of this South African ferocity, and being monstered at the line-out and the scrum. Oh, and they're kicking everything - Frans Steyn with unerring accuracy from the right touch-line...

19 mins: The Lions are being butchered at the set-piece - the ball rolls clear, and Phillips is enveloped by Heinrich Brussow. The Boks take it clear down the right flank, Du Preez darts free, and Croft makes an illegal shoulder-barge to bounce him into touch... could have been a yellow, he escapes with a penalty.

18 mins: Bit of aerial ping-pong, before the Lions win a penalty as Juan Smith goes off-side. There is a definite sense that the Lions are being outmuscled here.

16 mins: Not great this, a second (or maybe third?) line-out lost, Mears going to the back, and Pierre Spies nicking the ball. Pienaar has got a foot like a traction engine, and the Lions are on the back foot again.

14 mins: Better from the Lions at scrum-time, good step from Byrne before Phillips rumbles... the ball swept right, Bowe back inside to Monye... the ball back left, gossamer from Mears, flipping the ball back inside, and David Wallace scythes through the Boks defence like a buzzsaw through balsa wood. No support though, and as Habana tries to run free the turnover ball, Gethin Jenkins hauls him down and the Lions win a penalty... Jones has pulled this one again from out right... you can't afford to do that I'm afraid.

11 mins: Pienaar has plenty of time, always the sign of a class player, and he puts wings on that clearance... Croft wins the line-out, Mears takes it up... Lions win the scrum on the halfway line.

Ominous signs at scrum time, the Lions shoved off the ball there, Vickery jutting through the ceiling like a crag of rock, feet ripped from the ground. Penalty to the Boks... two visits into Lions territory for the Boks, and they've made them count - Pienaar with the three points...

7 mins: John de Villiers, the Bok inside centre, put in a phenomenal cover tackle there... we then have a bizarre exchange between referee Bryce Lawrence and the TV official...and it's decided Monye didn't get it down and it's a 22. Shades of George Gregan on Jeff Wilson there...

6 mins: The Lions need to get a grip on this match, that was a big early blow. Let's hope the Lions have merely been caught cold. Decent first scrum... Phillips goes on the dummy run, Heaslip takes it left, O'Driscoll with the wide pass and Ugo Monye goes over in the corner... it's going upstairs...

4 mins - TRY - South Africa 7-0 Lions
The Springboks strike first - wave after wave of phases, John Smit comes from deep, barging through the line like a out of control barrel, and Jamie Roberts is unable to stop him. Pienaar slots the extras.

3 mins: That's colossal from Frans Steyn, he's just muscled it 60 metres from under his own posts. The Boks go left, Steyn with the carry at the end. The Boks very nearly in... a cross-kick from Pienaar, the ball gets stuck between Monye's legs as he dives for the ball, and Byrne somehow manages to keep the Boks at bay...

2 mins: No better line-out in world rugby, and they're bang on with the first. However, the first penalty of the game goes to the tourists, JP Pietersen was off-side from the box kick from Du Preez. Jones is going to have a dart from out on the left flank, about 40 metres out... and he's yanked it left...

1 min: It's the hosts to kick off, and Ruan Pienaar it is with the switch... O'Driscoll fields in his own 22, cocks the hammer and clears well...

Former Lions coach Jim Telfer (edited version of his 1997 speech) "This is your Everest, boys... Very few ever get a chance in rugby terms to get for the top of Everest. You have the chance today. Being picked is the easy bit. To win for the Lions in a Test match is the ultimate, but you'll not do it unless you put your bodies on the line.

"They don't respect you. They don't rate you. The only way to be rated is to stick one on them, to get right up in their faces and turn them back. Outdo what they do. Outjump them, outscrum them, outruck them, outdrive them, outtackle them, until they're sick of you... You are privileged. You are the chosen few. Many are considered but few are chosen... the moment's arrived for the greatest game of your life."

1402: Here's the South Africa anthem, belted out by the Boks... heads yanked back defiantly, hands on hearts, just like the thousands in the stands... no anthem for the Lions, we'll have some play in a minute...

1359: Ear-splitting roar as the Boks bound onto the pitch. This is some atmosphere. Adam Jones and Harry Ellis looked every bit as psyched as the starting XV, they'll both no doubt have a part to play. Stand by for the anthems...

1357: The Lions rumble into the clearing and fall immediately into a huddle. Just look at those South African flags... here come the Boks...

Bryn Palmer, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "Chants of 'Lions, Lions' trying to drown out the pre-match entertainment, which includes giraffes and zebras on stilts, a giant elephant head and some blokes operating fake vultures flapping their wings. And some tribal dancing of course."

1354: Plenty of blood red in the crowd at Kings Park, it's looking 50-50, and our man in Durban has pretty much backed this up. Seven Sharks in this South Africa starting XV, to five from Super 14 champions the Bulls. Six Welshmen, five Irishmen and four Englishmen in the Lions starting XV.

Tom Shanklin on BBC Wales' Scrum V Lions "I have been very impressed with Lee Byrne for the last three years. He offers another dimension to the back line with his kicking game."

AllyintheUS on 606 "Gutted there are no Scots deemed good enough for the 22, but still proudly British and supporting the Lions 100%!"

1349: Almost there now... who'll be sat in the corner serenely? Who'll be banging their head against the shower wall? Any tears? Probably? Retching? No doubt. Pride? It will be bursting through their blood-red shirts...

1347: Oh, to be in the Lions changing room at the moment: I've just heard that Willie John McBride, perhaps the greatest ever Lion, is handing out the jerseys... I feel like crying just thinking about it...

Bryn Palmer, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "The Lions just running through a few line-outs... Wyn Jones at the front, POC in the middle - lifted by Gethin and Croft - and Heaslip taking a couple at the tail. They'll need all those options today you suspect, with Matfield sizing up when to try to pilfer Lions ball.

"Graham Rowntree just supervised a couple of scrums, and now POC has called all the forwards into a huddle. Surprised they can hear a thing with the dreadful din being pumped out of the stadium PA at the moment. How old do I sound?"

CraigGardner4England on 606 "If BOD doesn't get spear tackled within the first 30 seconds we may, just may, be in with a chance of this one. The selection of the Lions first XV is impeccable, it's just the lack of strength on the bench that worries me."

1340: Before I write this, this is not meant as a jibe! But do we have many Scottish fans watching/reading/listening today? Would be nice to think they're still behind the Lions despite their lack of representation.

Bryn Palmer, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "The Lions will not want for support today. Lots of Wales flags in evidence around the stadium. Can also spot ones from Maldon and Marlow RFCs, Leicester Tigers, Munster, Mold RFC, Old Wesley, Cornwall, Bexley RFC and one English flag bearing the request: 'Brian marry me'. Is this an English BOD admirer? Brian, are you out there? And what's your answer if so?"

Simon Austin, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "South Africa fly-half Ruan Pienaar is practising his goalkicking and landing most of his efforts. The conditions are excellent for kicking - hardly a breath of the swirling wind you often get at this stadium.

"Boks fans seem a little nervous about the Sharks player though. He hasn't played since 16 May and can be a little flaky, according to the South African journo I just spoke to who covers the Sharks."

Bryn Palmer, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "False alarm folks. Luke Fitzgerald is the '23rd man' apparently in case any of the three-quarters tripped over on the way to the stadium. So it's as you were for the Lions 22. Ronan O'Gara has been practising his goalkicking for 10 minutes under the supervision of Neil Jenkins.

"And here come the rest of the squad to begin their warm-up, with just over half an hour until kick-off. A few chants of 'Lions, Lions' to greet them. Red shirts everywhere you look in the stadium. Although the Boks fans are probably still chomping on their biltong and burgers at the street-side braais leading up to the ground."

Andre the Giant via text on 81111 "I lived in SA for five years before qualifying as a doctor. Amazingly, I found many Boks supporters that favour the Lions in these encounters, a throwback to memories of their majestic play back in the Seventies. Do they have the genius in this team to win away from home and win over the crowd? Schucks man, no. It's SA with a breeze today."

1327: What about a big performance from Tommy Bowe today? We knew he was good, but he's been a revelation on this tour. There are still those questioning Ugo Monye on the other flank - but he knows where the try-line is, and that's good enough for me.

Deano-mac on 606 "My real worry is Brussow, he was fantastic earlier in the tour and the quality (plus the strength in depth) of SA back row players is scary. We need to contest the breakdown better as nobody (bar Richie McCaw) is currently better than SA."

1322: Stephen Jones may have score 60 points against the Boks for Wales... but he's been on the receiving end of defeats in all six matches...

Bryn Palmer, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "Lions legend Jeremy Guscott is down at pitch-side giving an interview to 1995 World Cup winner Kobus Wiese, who is possibly the largest man I have ever seen. Saw him down at the Waterfront in Cape Town last week, buying ice creams for his wife and kids; he looks like he likes the odd dessert, Kobus.

"It looks like a newly-trimmed Luke Fitzgerald is out there doing a bit of punting practice with Ronan O'Gara. Any suggestion the Lions have had to make a late change to their 22? Is Rob Kearney, who had a dead leg earlier in the week, fit to take his place on the bench? Will see if I can find out."

dualtamac on 606 "All this POC bashing is just stupid, the guy is a sensational player and always raises his games for Tests. The Grand Slam match against Wales, the biggest Test match of his career before today, he was absolutely immense. He destroyed the Welsh lineout almost single-handedly. And his work around the field was huge."

1305: Only five of the tourists' line-up have previously started a Lions Test - Brian O'Driscoll, Stephen Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Phil Vickery and Paul O'Connell. Meanwhile, two Lions players in the starting XV have never previously faced South Africa for their country - Tommy Bowe and Jamie Heaslip...

Bryn Palmer, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "Lions full-back Lee Byrne is out on the pitch practising his punting from the 22m line with kicking coach Neil Jenkins, who famously landed five penalties in that last Lions Test victory here in 1997.

"Speaking to Byrne on Thursday, he said he usually has a session with Jenkins once a week, where they go through a full repertoire of different types of kicks. Byrne also suggested that the Lions would target Boks full-back Frans Steyn, who they hope to 'move around a bit'. Steyn of course can land drop-goals from inside his on half, but can he cope with the Lions' aerial bombardment? Expect a lot of kicking early on in today's match."

Paul, London, via text on 81111 "As a Munster-born Irishman, I love the Lions - especially as it's one of the few times my English wife and I get to support the same team!"

1258: What about the boiler room? Class act, Gethin Jenkins, but I don't think I was the only one a little bit surprised that Andrew Sheridan won't be parked on the bench. I don't think any prop in world rugby would fancy seeing him lumbering on with 20 minutes remaining. Springbok fans will expect Matfield and Botha to dominate the line-out, but Lee Mears was pinpoint at the Six Nations and he's been pinpoint so far this tour. Croft adds line-out options for the Lions, and it's sure to be a key battle within the war.

saint-wello on 606 "I'm more worried about the halves. I don't think the Lions have had a quality all-round fly-half to pick this year. Hook would have been the closest, but he's injured this week. Both Jones and O'Gara are very good at what they do, but I'm not sure they do enough. But, we'll see."

glawsteruk1 on 606 "Newspaper I read today certainly didn't suggest that the Lions would win. If anything, I thought their view was pretty negative. The Lions do have some excellent, world-class players, and you only need 15 on the field to win a game, so on a one-game basis, the argument that we don't have strength in depth is nonsense. They suggested either a pasting or a narrow Lions victory. As far as I'm concerned, game could go either way. As with all top games, first two minutes will be crucial."

Matt via text on 81111 "Think watching 'Living With Lions' is required watching at the moment. Watched it last night whilst doing the ironing... that's man's work, ironing, honest."

1250: Current Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins slotted a record 41 points against South Africa in the 1997 series, when famously the hosts didn't employ a kicking coach. Not the case this time round, however, although you have to think that if Stephen Jones doesn't kick everything in sight, the Lions will be punished.

Bryn Palmer, BBC Sport at the Absa Stadium "Belting day here in Durban, temperatures in the mid-20s and Kings Park, or the Absa Stadium as it's now officially called, is bathed in sunshine. Lions fans here in their thousands, and they may well have at least half of the tickets today. Certainly an air of optimism about the tourists' chances, despite the opposition. The Lions team has just arrived, walking alongside the pitch to get into the changing-room area just below me. Boks lock Victor Matfield is out on the pitch chatting to a few people, looking very relaxed. But will he lord it over the line-out today?"

Chris via text on 81111 "Tobermory? Fine whisky that - sampled it in Fort William when I scaled Nevis recently. Speaking of mountains, that Everest talk sends shivers through me."

Anon via text on 81111 "Dirsy, I am more than excited today. Me and the gang watched the 'Living with Lions' documentary last night and it's got me all revved up! There's also two South African children who play outside my house, it's all I can do not to go out there smash them up at the breakdown!"

1235: The Absa Stadium (formerly Kings Park) holds 52,000, and it will be a sell-out today. A few stats for you to chew on: in 43 meetings with the Lions, South Africa lead 21-16 with six draws. South Africa and the Lions have met in Durban on three occasions, with the hosts winning in 1924 and 1962 and the Lions victorious in 1997.

1230: I take it you've all seen this Boks number eight Pierre Spies in full flow? One sixty-odd metre interception try in this season's Super 14s stands out, and he left wingers and a full-back burnt up in his wake. Dean Richards, he isn't. But some reckon that might be his problem - he may have the flamboyant skills, but does he lack a Dean Richards ticker?

Matt, Boks, via text on 81111 "For me there is too much quality in this Boks team, they have learnt from the mistakes of the past and I cant see them letting the Lions get a sniff."

From Dr Sam, Tobermory, via text on 81111 "Watched Tommy Bowe in his first senior games at Ulster and have been a fan ever since. Hope he does us proud today."

1222: The Lions, lest we forget, are never favourites for any Test they play. But if they do go down to a heavy series defeat this year, I'm sure there will be those questioning the wisdom of future Lions tours. It isn't possible, they will say, to mould a crack outfit to compete with the best sides in the world in the space of a few weeks at the end of a very hard domestic and international season. Another reason why we need Paul O'Connell's side to front up at Kings Park today.

Welshexile15 on 606 "I'm really nervous. The South Africans have been far too quiet for my liking and I'm sure they will be using all the comments in the British media about them being under-prepared to fire themselves up. I think I preferred it when everyone was saying we were going to tonked!"

tolongsince on 606 "The Lions must win today, it's as simple as that. We must remember that the Saffas are rusty having not played at all for a while, and will only get better after today's match. Today's game is a must win."

1217: I have every confidence that these Lions three-quarters will be a match, both defensively and in attack, for their South African counterparts. The worry is at half-back, and whether the back-row will have the mongrel to deal with Spies, Smith and Brussow. Croft, Wallace and Heaslip may have the legs, but do they have the bite?

1210: The Lions have not won a Test since a 29-13 victory in the first Test at the Gabba, Brisbane - that's five Tests in a row without a win. A loss at sea level at Kings Park and this Lions squad would have to do the equivalent of flying to the moon, let alone scaling Everest, in order to come back and win the series - the second and third Tests are at altitude, and the Boks know a bit more about playing at altitude than these raiders from Britain and Ireland.

'Arrys White & Blue Army on 606 "The butterflies are beginning to kick in already. I can't wait!"

1205: Good day. The butterflies fluttering yet? The bile rising in your chest? It doesn't come much bigger than this ladies and gents - the British and Irish Lions in South Africa, what former Lions coach Jim Telfer so eloquently referred to as "the Everest" of rugby...

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see also
South Africa 26-21 Lions
20 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions emerge from shadow of 2005
20 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Bullish Byrne primed for SA clash
19 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Martyn Williams column
19 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Jones relishing Boks' lock test
19 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Habana delivers warning to Lions
18 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Brussow handed Springboks start
16 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Guscott's drop for glory
18 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union

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