Creating public expectation

Stephen Jones is hoping Wednesday’s performance will ensure the South African public take note of the Lions’ abilities.

After the tourists’ poor start in Rustenburg, they massacred a limp Golden Lions outfit. The Welsh flyhalf pulled the strings all night and although he realises improvement is  necessary, he hopes the performance has commanded the respect of the hosts.

‘I don’t know if we have changed public perception,’ Jones told keo.co.za, ‘but I hope so. We have heard a few comments that we’ll come second best so it will be interesting to see what they say after that.

‘You have to earn your stripes here in South Africa,’ he added.

This was just Jones’s second win in six encounters in a Lions jersey after their miserable outing in New Zealand in 2005. He’ll be hoping this will slay some of the demons of that tour.

‘I really enjoyed that game after some of the other memories of 2005, which weren’t so great. It is my finest moment in a Lions jersey. It was great to win and to win the way we did was even better.’

‘That was a really great performance, but we will be realistic. We know we need to win on Saturday [against the Cheetahs]. But am I happy? Yes.’

Jones reunited with fellow Welshman Mike Phillips, while the pair also gelled well with Jamie Roberts and captain on the night, Brian O’Driscoll. Jones admitted limited preparation time meant some of the moves had to be instant decisions on the field.

‘The lines the boys ran were great and we made a few of those calls on the pitch. We only have a certain amount of training time so some of them were off the cuff, with Brian and I talking about a rough idea of the moves. In both attack and defence we are evolving.’

Jones had special praise for Roberts, who completed his second successive match. The massive No 12′s versatility means he and O’Driscoll interchange when the situation requires.

‘Jamie’s done well. He’s only played No 12 for a year or so, so it was a big ask of him. You never have a centre pairing that is the same. We swap them depending on the move we want to call. Brian and Jamie have different physical qualities, so we must be smart in the way we use them.’

By Grant Ball, at Ellis Park