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South Africa's head coach Jacques Nienaber said that the British and Irish Lions outplayed his side after the first test went to the tourists on Saturday.

Nienaber praised the tourists' ability in the aerial battle after a hotly contested, somewhat contentious, first test in Cape Town ended with the Lions 22-17 victors.

Speaking to media after the match, Nienaber mentioned that the kicking game used by the Lions in the second half was what bested the world champions.

“The kicking game was won by us in the first half and we got the rewards, but the second half was a different story,” Nienaber said..

“They won that battle and it gave them territory, advantage in broken field play and we had to scramble, and could not cope.”

The Springboks' head coach felt their 12-3 lead at half-time was deserved, but he did not expect the Lions to bounce back in the second half the way they did.

“We were nine points up, so things were working for us – we were playing in the right areas,” Nienaber said.

“Our half-time talk was to step up at the breakdown and then our discipline fell away. We started to make mistakes, especially at maul time. We did not make the step-up needed when required.

“We can certainly salvage this. A proper review is needed, but we can sort it out, no doubt. It worked in the first half, and I believe what happened in the second half is fixable.”

Watch Brian O'Driscoll and Alan Quinlan post-match analysis:

In a match that had more than a few contentious decisions, not least two Springbok tries being ruled out by the TMO, Nienaber believes that the majority of the calls were correct.

“I completely trust the officials, that is their jobs, they are the professionals in that field,” Nienaber said.

“They are in a better position and have many angles to look at. Sometimes these calls go against you, as we found out today. In the second half we had three try scoring opportunities, twice we were called back. Those is the small margins in this game.”

While the Springboks had only had one test match in the past 20 months, and many of their starting players had less than a week out of isolation due to COVID-19, Nienaber refused to place their loss on a lack of preparation.

“We did not play a lot of rugby together, but we still had good cohesion in the first half," Nienaber said. "What happened in the second half was not because of COVID, we lost the battle in the air.

“They kicked a lot and we planned for it. It worked in the first half and in the second half it did not. Our execution was not as good.”

Catch every moment of the British and Irish Lions series on Off The Ball, with live commentary from the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Wood, Alan Quinlan and more throughout the test series.

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Alan Quinlan Brian O'Driscoll British And Irish Lions Hamish Watson Jacques Nienaber Lions South Africa Springboks Willie Le Roux

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