South Africa (8) 28 Tries: Pietersen, Habana, Fourie Con: M Steyn 2 Pens: F Steyn, M Steyn 2 Lions (16) 25 Tries Kearney Con: S Jones Pens: S Jones 5 Drop-goal: S Jones
South Africa celebrate avenging their series defeat in 1997
By Bryn Palmer
BBC Sport at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
The British and Irish Lions' hopes of squaring the series in South Africa ended in heart-breaking fashion as replacement Springboks fly-half Morne Steyn landed a winning penalty with the last kick of a thrilling second Test in Pretoria.
Ian McGeechan's side succumbed in the cruellest conceivable manner to put the seal on a third consecutive series defeat for the tourists.
Steyn's monumental kick from 53 metres ensured the world champions earned a measure of revenge for their 1997 defeat by the Lions, who led until the 74th minute before the video referee ruled Jaque Fourie had scored for the Boks in the right corner.
Steyn's touchline conversion saw the hosts edge in front 25-22, but a Stephen Jones penalty with three minutes left levelled the scores.
Unlucky Lions made crucial mistakes - O'Connell
A draw would have kept the series alive until the deciding Test in Johannesburg next Saturday, but it was not to be.
South Africa manufactured a drop-goal attempt for Steyn with a minute left, but the replacement fly-half's effort fell short.
The outstanding Rob Kearney retrieved it and banged it down-field, only for Steyn to launch it back into the Lions 22.
Ronan O'Gara, on for the injured Jamie Roberts, fielded the kick and opted to launch a high up-and-under rather than aim for touch.
He chased his own kick, but only succeeded in stumbling into Fourie Du Preez as he claimed it in the air.
Referee Christophe Berdos deemed it a penalty and Morne Steyn, a hero with the local Bulls fans, coolly stroked over the kick to send them into raptures, and shatter the Lions.
O'Gara's careless late challenge gave the Boks the decisive shot at goal
Such an outcome appeared unlikely for most of the match as the Lions dominated for large periods.
Kearney's early converted try, and two penalties and a drop-goal from Stephen Jones, gave them a 16-8 half-time lead which Jones extended to 19-8 on the hour.
But the world champions fought back superbly in the final quarter as tries from Bryan Habana and Fourie, both converted by Morne Steyn, who added two vital penalties, steered them home.
The match got off to an explosive start when Schalk Burger, who led his side onto the field on the occasion of his 50th cap, was removed from it within the first minute.
The Lions had conceded a penalty but it was reversed when touch judge Bryce Lawrence adjudged the celebrated flanker had raked his finger across the eyes of Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald.
If so, it was difficult to see why French referee Christophe Berdos did not produce a red card, but Jones knocked over the penalty to give the Lions the early momentum.
From Kearney's counter-attack, Tommy Bowe raced into the line and fed Gethin Jenkins, but the Welsh prop delayed his pass to the onrushing Roberts as a try beckoned.
The Boks appeared rattled by the early onslaught and a dust-up saw Victor Matfield shove Brian O'Driscoll and Juan Smith swing an arm at the Lions centre, whose response was to mouth "Bring it on!" at his would-be assailants.
The Lions' try in the seventh minute featured a brilliant offload from Stephen Jones out the back of his hand to Kearney, who left Frans Steyn unsure whether to make the tackle with Bowe lurking, allowing the full-back to reach over in the right corner.
Jones converted superbly from the touchline to make it 10-0 in eight minutes, a complete reversal from the woeful start in Durban a week ago.
Kearney's superb try gave the Lions the perfect start
Simon Shaw, making his Lions Test debut at the age of 35, put his giant frame about to good effect with some early charges, while the tourists sought to spread the ball wide at every opportunity.
But having conceded 10 points with Burger off the field, the Boks scored immediately upon his return.
Smith won a line-out at the tail and scrum-half Du Preez released wing JP Pietersen, who picked a superb angle to ease past Fitzgerald and over to the right of the posts.
Ruan Pienaar missed the relatively straightforward conversion, the first of three costly misses by the Boks fly-half before he was replaced on the hour.
The Lions were then grateful to Fitzgerald as he retrieved a chip ahead from Pietersen after a cross-kick from Pienaar, giving South Africa a 5m scrum.
But after the problems the Lions endured in the first Test, they won a vital penalty when Bismarck Du Plessis and John Smit popped up at the collision.
Andrew Sheridan came on for a powerful cameo after replacing a bloodied Jenkins, and the Lions were denied a second try when Pierre Spies brought down O'Driscoll with a superb tackle after the centre had released Fitzgerald down the left wing and raced up in support to take the return pass.
But the tourists recycled patiently and took play through 13 phases before Jones, in acres of space, landed a simple drop-goal from 15m to extend the lead to 18-5.
Francois Steyn kept the Boks in touch at the interval with a mammoth 55m penalty with the last kick of the half.
The third quarter featured a litany of injuries as Jenkins clashed heads with Habana and left the fray for good five minutes into the second half.
With fellow prop Adam Jones also going off with a sprained shoulder, there were uncontested scrums for the final 35 minutes.
The Lions suffered two let-offs when Pienaar missed two long-range penalties within four minutes.
And it appeared the match was swinging decisively their way when Boks captain John Smit was penalised on the hour and Jones stroked over his third penalty to give the Lions an 11-point cushion going into the final quarter.
But after a sickening collision between O'Driscoll and Danie Rossouw resulted in both players collapsing to the ground, before being forced off, the Boks struck.
A fine move from the Springboks started when Spies picked up off the back of an uncontested scrum, and Du Preez sent the electric Habana arrowing through the Lions midfield before holding off Kearney's last-ditch tackle to stretch over.
Morne Steyn, on at fly-half for Pienaar, converted to trim the gap to four points, but with the pressure mounting on the Lions, Boks hooker Du Plessis opted to run a kickable penalty and the tourists turned it over.
Roberts followed O'Driscoll off the field, resulting in a centre partnership of Stephen Jones and Bowe for the last 13 minutes, with O'Gara coming on at fly-half.
Fourie's try swung the momentum decisively in South Africa's favour
It proved an unfortunate cameo for the Irishman. Jones kicked his fifth penalty to make it 22-18 to the Lions with 10 minutes left, but O'Gara then missed a tackle on the powerful Fourie.
Mike Phillips's last-ditch tackle ultimately proved unsuccessful and after several minutes of deliberation, television match official Stuart Dickinson awarded the try, with apparently no decisive replay that could either confirm or rule out whether he had gone into touch in the act of scoring.
Morne Steyn's touchline conversion suddenly left the Lions five minutes to manufacture a score to keep the series alive.
A high tackle by replacement Boks lock Andries Bekker on Stephen Jones saw the Welshman haul himself up to level the scores.
But it was South Africa who were handed a chance to win the game, and Morne Steyn gratefully accepted the opportunity to clinch the series for the world champions.
South Africa: Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen, Adi Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez; Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit (capt) Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies.
Lions: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Luke Fitzgerald, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Simon Shaw, Paul O'Connell, Tom Croft, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Andrew Sheridan (for Jenkins, blood, 22-31, 45), Alun-Wyn Jones (for A Jones, 45), Martyn Williams (for Wallace, 68), Harry Ellis, Ronan O'Gara (for Roberts 67), Shane Williams (for O'Driscoll, 64).
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