James Hook makes a burst in the opening stages against Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
Huw Evans Picture Agency
The British and Irish Lions dethroned Southern Kings 20-8 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in a bruising encounter in Port Elizabeth to maintain their unbeaten record on tour.
The Lions may have preserved their tour record but once again key players left the fray injured during the match. Wales fly half James Hook and Scotland prop Euan Murray both departed inside the first 13minutes due to the physical nature of the game.
Several Lions would have hoped to press a late claim for Saturday's Test side but the home side's tigerish and abrasive defence ensured it wasn't a game where individuals stood out.
The Southern Kings opened the scoring through former Leicester fly half Jaco Van der Westhuyzen in the third minute and there after the Lions had to withstand wave after wave of ferocious defence as the home side tore into the Lions.
Having lost Hook and Murrary early on, the Lions struggled to settle but got back on even terms in the 27th minute when replacement Ronan O'Gara landed a penalty in a game which lacked cohesion as both sides made numerous mistakes.
O'Gara edged the Lions ahead after 44 minutes when he booted a second penalty, but Welsh referee Nigel Owens was having to work overtime to keep a lid on proceedings. Twice he issued warnings to the rival captains.
O'Gara took matters into his own hands in the 50th minute when his cross field kick eluded the Southern Kings defence and Ugo Monye dived on the loose ball to rack up his fourth try of the tour. O'Gara added the conversion to take the Lions to a 13-3 lead.
The one area where the Lions dominated - the scrum - proved the next source of scoring when the Lions had the home pack back peddling near their own try-line. Owens had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try and with O'Gara landing the easy conversion, the Lions had jumped out to a 20-3 lead.
However the Southern Kings battled back and saw impressive flanker Mpho Mbiyozo crash over from close range, cutting the deficit to 12 points.
However time wasn't on the Southern Kings' side as the Lions held on in their most demanding match of the tour so far. It may have been tough and uncompromising and physically challenging, but it was nothing compared to what the world champions will throw at them at Durban on Saturday.
Scorers: Southern Kings: Try: Mbiyoso; Pen: Van der Westhuyzen Lions: Tries: Monye, penalty try; Cons: O'Gara (2); Pens: O'Gara (2)
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