31 May 2009

Lions open South Africa tour with win

12:56 pm on 31 May 2009

First five eighth Ronan O'Gara scored 22 points as the British and Irish Lions fought back from 18-3 down to beat Royal Highveld XV 37-25 in their opening tour match.

The South African side, drawn from five provinces that do not play in the Super 14, surprised the Lions as they ran in two tries to lead 18-3 after 27 minutes.

The Lions showed their experience and stamina by regaining the lead with just four minutes remaining then adding a fourth try on the final whistle to extend their winning margin to a flattering 12 points.

O'Gara succeeded with all seven of his kicks at goal, four conversions and three penalties, and scored the last try in a fine all-round personal display.

Wing Tommy Bowe, Lee Byrne, who enjoyed an impressively solid display at fullback, and replacement lock Alun-Wyn Jones scored the other Lions tries.

The Highveld XV's tries were all scored by forwards, flanker Wilhelm Koch, hooker Rayno Barnes and tighthead prop Bees Roux.