Here's what they said about the 37-25 win over the Royal XV in the opening tour match on Saturday, May 30.
Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll on the Guardian website
It may seem strange to say, given there were just four minutes remaining when we regained the lead, but there was never a point yesterday when I thought we were going to lose. Every Lions team is made up of outstanding players and you can invariably rely on one of them to turn a game.
This time it was Lee Byrne, who scored a superb individual try immediately after we had fallen behind 25-13 and then kicked us into the position from which Alun-Wyn Jones claimed the try that finished off a talented and spirited Royal XV.
It was a far better and more meaningful match than we had in Australia eight years ago, when we met a weak side in Perth and romped away from the opening minute. That was a pointless exercise because patterns became lost in the easy untangling of their defence and players became anxious to get on the scoresheet. There is no place in a short tour for weak opponents and the Royal XV were anything but that.
Chris Hewitt in the Independent on Sunday
Two scratch teams set the Lions tour of South Africa in motion at an eerily under populated Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace yesterday, and for 80 long, painful minutes, it was the tourists who looked by far the scratchier. Fortunately for Paul O'Connell's men, there was enough stoppage time to make a difference. Two tries during the added extras, the first from Alun-Wyn Jones and the second from Ronan O'Gara, turned things round, but celebrations were not so much muted as silent.
South African Sunday Times
The Lions showed understandable lack of cohesion, but there was also an absence of fire and a missing tinge of malice. They were too nice. It was almost as if the game needed a punch-up to rekindle the spirit of Willie-John McBride and Martin Johnson.
Perhaps the nearly empty Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace robbed the match of the atmosphere the Lions, especially the new caps, might have expected from such an occasion.
But with the Bulls in action in the Super 14 final 120km up the road, rugby fans who weren't at Loftus were probably at home in front of their television sets. At times it looked as if the Lions would rather have been doing the same.
The last time the Lions lost their opening match on tour was against Queensland on the 1971 tour to Australia and New Zealand. The last time they lost first up in South Africa was against Western Transvaal in 1955.
For 75 minutes it looked as if that dubious record was going to be equalled. Perhaps losing the opening match isn't such a bad omen for the Lions, as in '55 they drew the series 2-2 and in '71 they beat the All Blacks 2-1.
Dan Retief on Super Sport
The Lions, shaken by the gutsy resistance put up by the scratch Royals, did not take the lead until the 75th minute and a try by Ronan O'Gara on the stroke of full time put a much better complexion on the final scoreline than the Lions deserved.
The Lions looked lethargic, struggled to come to terms with local conditions and committed a rash of handling errors as the Royals surged to a shock 25-13 lead after 65 minutes.
The Lions had made a mess of a number of scoring chances but they showed reserves of determination that would have pleased coach Ian McGeechan to score 24 points in the last 13 minutes and claim a victory that for a long time had looked beyond them.
The tourists were dominant at scrum time and O'Connell ruled the lineouts but they failed to lay down the physical marker McGeechan had called for in the build-up. The Lions were guilty of bunching in defence, their forwards were sluggish getting to the breakdowns, which meant the ball was not protected as well it should have been, and their handling was downright sloppy - with centre Keith Earls a particular culprit.
Given that it was their opening game, the Lions were strangely lethargic and seemingly devoid of urgency - perhaps a result of the hard work they've been doing - until they finally got it right just when it seemed they would tumble to what would have been an embarrassing defeat.
Stephen Jones in the Sunday Times
WITH only 13 minutes remaining of this vibrant but often alarming occasion on the parched Highveld at the Royal Bafokeng stadium, the Royal XV were leading by 25-13; they needed only a quiet few minutes to seal a famous win and to send shudders down so many British and Irish spines that it would have measured on the Richter Scale.
As it turned out, the Lions flatly denied their valiant hosts that quiet period. They came with a desperate and yet also impressive late charge, which brought them three tries and 24 points in that last 13 minutes, and sent them on to Ellis Park, for the game against the Golden Lions on Wednesday, in better heart. And in the knowledge that they will have to improve mightily.
The tour management bemoaned the large number of basic errors, but there was more to it than that. These Lions were disjointed; it was often difficult to find evidence of a strategy or a wavelength. They never even threatened to win a Royal lineout and, for too long, their only attacking weapon was to send the impressive Jamie Roberts up the middle.
However, class did squeeze through at the end. The Lions can heartily thank Lee Byrne, easily the most accomplished Lion on the field, not only for hitting back and exhuming their chances with a splendid individual try to kick off the final surge, but also for his composure, his footballing excellence and his kicking game.
Gareth Griffiths in the Wales On Sunday
In a match they only led their opponents for a total of six minutes, three late tries from Ospreys and Welsh duo Lee Byrne and replacement Alun-Wyn Jones and Irish outside-half Ronan O'Gara spared the Lions blushes.
This 24-point burst in 13 late minutes after trailing 25-13 will not deter from a poor performance. And the Springboks will not be losing any sleep based on this display, just three weeks before the start of the first Test in Durban.
The Lions were guilty of unforced errors and handling mistakes, their try line was breached three times and they lost the breakdown battle.