World Champions South Africa suffered a major fright before clinging onto a 26-21 victory against the British and Irish Lions to claim first blood in the opening Test at Kings Park in Durban.
The tourists looked down and out at halftime with the home side leading 19-7 but the Lions fought back bravely in the second spell and just fell agonisingly short of pulling off one of the great comebacks of all time.
The Springboks showed no signs of ring rustiness and tore into the Lions from the outset. Captain John Smit barged his way over in the fourth minute for the first try of the match and with Ruan Pienaar banging over three penalties and full back Frans Steyn adding another, the Boks were firmly in control at the break.
Leicester flanker Tom Croft gave the Lions some hope when he was on the shoulder of Brian O'Driscoll to collect the Irish centre's pass to dive over in Steyn's tackler but other than that, the tourists struggled to get in to the game as their scrum and lineout failed to function.
When flanker Heinrich Brussow powered over early on in the scone half it looked like it was going to be one way traffic but a second try from Croft with 13 minutes remaining suddenly turned the tide.
Scrum-half Mike Phillips dived over with five minutes remaining, Stephen Jones converting both to set up a grandstand finish.
The Boks were out on their feet as the Lions ripped into them but somehow the home side kept the rampant Lions at bay.
Even in defeat, there were several positives to come out of the match for Ian McGeechan and his fellow selectors. Welsh centre Jamie Roberts was once again outstanding and his partnership with O'Driscoll has become a crucial cutting edge for the Lions.
Hooker Matthew Rees and fellow countryman Adam Jones both impressed when coming on as replacements for Lee Mears and Phil Vickery respectively. The scrum improved in the second spell so the Lions selectors have plenty to ponder before the second Test next Saturday.
South Africa (19) 26
Tries: Smit, Brussow Cons: Pienaar 2 Pens: Pienaar 3, Steyn
Lions (7) 21
Tries: Croft 2, Phillips Cons: Jones 3
South Africa: Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen, Adi Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez; Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, John Smith (capt) Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Heinrich Brussow, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies.
Replacements: Deon Carstens (for Smit, 65, Smit for ), Gurthro Steenkamp (for Mtawarira, 65) , Andries Bekker (for Botha, 57), Danie Rossouw (for Brussow, 52), Ricky Januarie (for Du Preez, 68), Morne Steyn (for Pienaar, blood 65, Pienaar for Jacobs, 74), Jaque Fourie (for De Villiers, 57)
Lions: Lee Byrne, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Ugo Monye, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Lee Mears, Phil Vickery, Alun-Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell, Tom Croft, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Matthew Rees (for Mears, 50), Adam Jones (for Vickery, 45), Donncha O'Callaghan (for Wyn Jones, 68, Martyn Williams (for Wallace, 66), Harry Ellis, Ronan O'Gara, Rob Kearney (for Byrne, 38).
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Wales winger Luke Morgan has established himself as one of the deadliest finishers on the Sevens World Series. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie catches up with him on the eve of this weekend's round in Glasgow.
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WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.