Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lions Lay Down a Marker for Sceptical Springboks

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lions Lay Down a Marker for Sceptical Springboks

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent in association with GUINNESS


STEPHEN JONES guided the tourists to a stunning 10-try demolition of the Golden Lions and then demanded an even better performance from the squad against the Cheetahs on Saturday. Although the Wales fly-half will not start that match -- Ronan O'Gara is expected to play at No10 in Bloemfontein-- he believes the Lions must keep raising the bar to give themselves a realistic chance of defeating South Africa in the three-Test series.

After a stuttering opening win against a Royal XV in the heat of Phokeng, the Lions put out a very different team last night, containing up to nine of the potential First Test line-up. And they enjoyed the cool evening and two tries each from Jamie Roberts, Ugo Monye and Tommy Bowe gave a doubting South African rugby public something to think about.

Jones, who kicked 18 points, said: "We had a few comments in the build-up to this match from local fans telling us we would come second best and it will be interesting to find out how they perceive us after that performance. You have to earn your rugby stripes in this country and hopefully we did that in this game. It's now about raising the bar again and become even better. Yes, this win was beyond my wildest dreams but there are areas where we have to improve."

The Welshman (below) had an effective partnership with compatriots Mike Phillips, at scrum-half, and Roberts, at inside centre, and along with the unique skills of captain Brian O'Driscoll were too much for the hosts at Ellis Park.

"Brian and I were talking throughout the match and he tells me who is tackling him and that gives me an idea of what moves could work to avoid that kind of defence," said Jones. "Our own defence is a work in progress and there are areas we will have to work on and this part of our game has to evolve as we build up to the Test matches. …

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