British & Irish Lions

Lions prop wasn't concerned by Bok 'Bomb Squad' that didn't detonate

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Malcolm Marx (L), Josh Navidi and Mako Vunipola (Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Malcolm Marx (L), Josh Navidi and Mako Vunipola (Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
  • British and Irish Lions prop Mako Vunipola said they weren't concerned by the Springboks' "Bomb Squad".
  • Vunipola came on as a second-half substitute and played a crucial role in the Lions' 22-17 win in the first Test in Cape Town on Saturday.
  • Vunipola also said he didn't behave badly when he lifted Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe off the ground after he landed badly.

British and Irish Lions prop Mako Vunipola said they didn't concern themselves about the strength of the Springbok reserves in Saturday's first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

Vunipola wasn't down to start, but Wyn Jones's late withdrawal saw the 67-time capped England loosehead prop playing in his sixth British and Irish Lions Test.

He made an excellent impact off the bench as the much-vaunted Springbok "Bomb Squad" failed to detonate in the manner that was expected of them.

Instead, the Boks coughed up a 12-3 lead to lose the first Test 22-17, leaving the hosts in a difficult position of having to play catch-up for the rest of the series. Vunipola said they had a job to do and was happy to have executed to the best of their ability from the bench.

"We just concentrated on what we can do because we knew the strength of what they have on the bench," Vunipola said.

"When we came on, we understood that we needed to do a job for our team. Fortunately, we did so and we were happy with how it ended."

Vunipola also defended his conduct when he pulled up Cheslin Kolbe after he landed hard after he was taken out in the air by a British and Irish Lions player.

That the penalty wasn't given by referee Nic Berry remains one of the talking points of Saturday's first Test where Berry's officiating came under scrutiny.

Vunipola though apologised if he felt his conduct was contrary to the spirit of the game.

"I saw he had gone down and I was trying to get the ball in. It was a heat of the moment thing and I reacted how I would normally do," Vunipola said.

"I wasn't that reckless and he continued to play in the game. If he was really hurt, then that would have been reckless, but I felt the collision wasn't that bad.

"I guess we were behind at the time and we wanted to get a bit of tempo in the game and I wanted to get the ball off him.

"If I did err, I do apologise."

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