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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defense Leads Lions to Historic Win

DURBAN, South Africa -- Stout defense under extreme pressure and the accurate boot of Welsh fullback Neil Jenkins clinched a memorable series victory for the 1997 British Lions over South Africa.


Although outscored by three tries to none, the Lions produced a remarkably gritty display to win a match 18-15 which was largely dominated by the Springboks.


The Lions, in emulating the achievement of Willie John McBride's great side of 1974, had to come back from a 15-9 deficit with under half an hour remaining.


The nerveless Jenkins kicked five penalties out of five, and English center Jeremy Guscott coolly slotted a drop goal three minutes from time to give the Lions only their second series win over South Africa this century.


Yet the Lions had to withstand a furious onslaught from a committed Springbok pack and three well-taken tries from scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen, test debutant Percy Montgomery and fullback Andre Joubert.


South Africa produced a high-octane start from the very first whistle, with a muscular forward drive advancing them to the edge of the Lions' 22 meter line.


Springbok flyhalf Henry Honiball missed two penalties in the first seven minutes but South Africa dominated territorially as they punched several holes upfield with some powerful driving.


Against the run of play, Jenkins opened a 3-0 lead in the 17th minute with a penalty from just inside the Springbok half and then, 10 minutes before the break, added a second.


But South Africa hit back with the first try of the match when van der Westhuizen burrowed over the line in the right-hand corner after peeling off the back of a maul.


Montgomery's failure to convert gave the Lions a 6-5 advantage at the break.


From the restart, South Africa took the lead for the first time in the match when Montgomery crossed the line by the right-hand corner flag.


Jenkins hauled the Lions back to within a point with a third penalty from in front of the posts but Springbok fullback Joubert hit back quickly to score South Africa's third try in the 54th minute.


With a 15-9 lead, the Springboks looked set to level the series.


However Jenkins equalized at 15-15 with two more penalties in the final quarter before Guscott's drop goal sealed both the match and the series.