Fightback allows Lions supporters to retain hope

The brave second-half performance in Saturday’s first Test against the Springboks has kept the series alive, despite ending in defeat, by giving Lions supporters that key ingredient in sport fandom: hope.

In 2005, after Brian O’Driscoll was dumped out of the series, and Dan Carter had orchestrated a proper thrashing, it finally dawned on us that the Lions did not stand a chance, and the rest of the series was going to be miserably embarrassing.

At half-time on Saturday, I was in a similar state of despair. Months and years have been spent looking forward to this series, in the hope that the glories of 1997 can be revived, but seeing the boys almost down and out in the first Test made me think that the second and third Tests would hardly be worth watching.

The monumental fightback, however, has given us that glimmer of hope and that belief that the Lions can actually win next weekend to set up a series decider, and what a prospect that would be. Without that 30 minutes of brilliance, the Lions series would effectively be over, and yet it lives on for another week at least.

The Emerging Springboks stand in the way tonight, although it looks like the Lions have avoided being forced to play a Test player. Let’s hope the midweek side can continue the momentum with a strong performance that will continue to worry Pieter de Villers’ men.