Former Lions flanker Neil Back in the Yorkshire Post
I thought the second Test was a fantastic game of rugby. Rob Kearney was outstanding for the Lions at the back and he, along with Tommy Bowe and Luke Fitzgerald, were a great combination that bodes well for Ireland in the future.
The centres were an obvious choice and there will always be conjecture as to how the game could have gone if both of them had stayed on the field.
The game started with incredible intensity and, as a fan, that is exactly what you wanted.
History will show that the Lions have lost the series and they have now lost seven games on the bounce over the past three tours. This group of players have the responsibility to re-gather and push as hard as they can to win the final Test and it is important that they avoid a second consecutive whitewash.
Having said that, this tour is completely different from that which lost 3-0 in New Zealand four years ago.
Ultimately, South Africa deserved to win both Tests but both could have gone the other way. If the Lions had taken their chances in the first or had they not lost so many players to injury on Saturday, they could have been heading into the third Test at one-all and looking for a series win at Ellis Park.
Alex Spink in The Mirror
The fear was always that the three tries that went begging in the First Test would haunt the Lions. So it proved.
But they went down all guns blazing. Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Rob Kearney, Phillips, Gethin Jenkins and Simon Shaw were magnificent.
When they did falter it was through lack of players. Losing props Jones and Jenkins five minutes after half-time was wretched luck. To then be robbed of both centres - O'Driscoll to concussion, Roberts to a sprained wrist - crippled their attacking threat.
Yet still the Lions fought on, even when Jaque Fourie scored a brilliant try six minutes from time to put the world champions ahead for the first time.
With hindsight the Lions should have gone for the win when awarded a late penalty, rather than play for a draw which Stephen Jones' kick looked to have clinched.
Gerry Thornley in The Irish Times
A seventh successive defeat for the Lions, but there was no shame in this one. They put their bodies on the line heroically, played with verve and intelligence and, as they had to do against the most abrasive Test side on the planet, fought the good fight. Alas, this made the taste of a series-deciding loss all the more bitter.
A 25-all draw would perhaps have been the fairest outcome and would have at least ensured they could salvage the series in Johannesburg next Saturday. They'll all have memories of great friendships and great rugby for ever more, but the likes of Rob Kearney, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips, Simon Shaw, Adam Jones, Gethin Jenkins, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip did not deserve to come away also with a shared sense of desolation from probably the most bitter defeat of all their careers.
Sport throws up epic collisions of this scale only occasionally, and a packed, 52,511 Loftus Versfeld furnace, uncommonly split close to 50-50 in terms of support, throbbed from first minute to last. And, it has to be said, sport also rarely throws up games of such savagery and brutality.
For the most part it resembled a Pacific Islands derby - albeit one of at times breathtaking quality and drama. Ultimately, though, in meeting physical fire with fire, the effort took its toll and the tourists were cruelly beaten by a penalty from fully 53.7 metres by the home replacement outhalf, Morne Steyn, with the last kick.
The Lions will rue not putting more daylight between themselves and the Boks when vastly superior in the first half. All five changes to the Lions line-up were vindicated, although this will only make them regret some of their selections for the first Test.
Kevin Garside in the Daily Telegraph
Are they mad? Do the naysayers not recognise that in the cruel, heartbreaking late surrender in Pretoria the Lions concept soared? The result was an irrelevance. The point about the Lions was reinforced, not in victory, but in defeat.
It is not supposed to be easy. The Lions do not tour Fiji, the Solomon Islands or Samoa. They go to where the battle inspires dread. Saturday's spectacle pitched them on the Highveld against the world champions; a group assembled a month before taking it to the best there is at a point in the cycle when their bodies might be bound for the beach.
The effort, courage, commitment, skill, ferocity, desire wedded to the Lions' cause made the heart burst.
The lament of the hopeless romantic? Certainly not. To win is great. But to be there in the first place, reaching for the line, is the outcome that adds the value.
Brendan Gallagher in the Daily Telegraph
The greatest game ever? A big call but many were making that claim in the bars of Pretoria on Saturday night and the coffee shops yesterday morning as we tried to piece together a remarkable afternoon of compelling action, human drama, controversy and spectacle.
My inclination is yes, but my generation were not among the 100,000 plus who witnessed the Lions' 23-22 first Test win at Ellis Park in 1955. The Lions, playing with 14 men for much of the second half, clung on for victory. The Boks had a conversion attempt from Jackie van der Schyff to win the game but he pushed it wide and never played for the Boks again. Disillusioned, he moved to Rhodesia where he hunted crocodiles for a living.
So while doffing a cap to the heroes of 1955 and France's World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand in 1999 there is a strong case for this epic at Loftus Versfeld.
Firstly, rugby from the gods and career-defining performances from Rob Kearney, Simon Shaw - at the age of 35 - and South Africa's replacements Morne Steyn and Jaque Fourie. Stephen Jones has never played better but his magnificent late penalty to level the scores at 25-25 will now be just a footnote.
South Africa's tries from Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen where sheer class with the Lions effort from Rob Kearney losing little in comparison. Frans Steyn's kick just before half-time was nerveless, Morne Steyn's boomer to win on the final whistle extraordinary.
The savage intensity, the five Lions who finished the day in hospital, the unremitting controlled violence; blood, gore, pain but neither side shifted. Both saw this as their Rorke's Drift.
Rob Kitson in the Guardian
The series is South Africa's but this was a game worthy of its billing. It had the lot: glorious attack, savage physicality, ceaseless tension, epic defence and last-gasp intrigue. For the Lions, heartbreaking does not begin to cover it. They have had some character-laden last stands down the years but rarely have they come closer to silencing a crowd which had turned up fully expecting a Springbok coronation.
They will talk about this game for years in both hemispheres. While Morne Steyn's monster 53-metre penalty from his own half settled the outcome, it was only one of dozens of extraordinary moments. South Africa have had to wait 12 years for revenge following their defeat in 1997 but even in their moment of ecstasy they would have to concede their opponents matched them blow for blow. Only when Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll were off the field, with the scrums already uncontested, did the Boks open-field power exert itself. The record books will say the Lions could not prolong the series beyond the first two Tests but that bald statistic tells barely a fraction of the story.
Unlike last week the Lions started splendidly, took their early chances and, initially, rode their luck. Warren Gatland's pre-match exhortations about getting stuck into the Boks from the whistle were carried out to the letter. A Lions side in full cry is one of the game's great sights and the way the touring team set about righting the wrongs of Durban spoke volumes for the collective spirit of the players and the remedial work of the coaches.
Man-of-the-match Simon Shaw and Adam Jones brought solidity and thrust to the close exchanges and Rob Kearney at full-back had a game to dream about. Quite aside from his well-taken try he soared to take high balls as if he had played at altitude all his life. When people say the British and Irish game does not produce world-class athletes this was some rebuttal.
Games as good as this do not come along every day.
Chris Hewett in The Independent
Seven consecutive big-game failures and counting. It is the kind of record that earns football managers - and, increasingly in this flint-hearted professional era, head coaches of rugby teams - a torrent of abuse on supporters' websites, a meaningless vote of confidence from the chairman and a long spell of gardening leave without the option. Inevitably, this excruciatingly painful defeat by the Springboks in one of the more savage contests in living memory provoked much debate about the future of Lions touring, forcing the likes of Gerald Davies and Ian McGeechan on to the barricades in defence of the great love of their sporting lives.
Davies considered it a minimum requirement that the series should be decided this weekend in Johannesburg, and by that measurement, his party has fallen short. But there are times in rugby when a team can lose a Test yet claim victory in the battle for hearts and minds, and there is something of that at work here.
God, it was hard at Loftus Versfeld. Five Lions finished up in hospital, two of them seriously hurt, and the Lions' medical room looked more like a clearing station yesterday.
Well as the Springboks played in the final quarter to overturn a 19-8 deficit - the tries scored by Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie in the 71st and 84th minutes were absolute belters, as was the winning long-range penalty from the cucumber-cool Morne Steyn - there can be little doubt that, with Schalk Burger off the field for virtually the whole game (Burger was yellow-carded after one minute for eye gouging), the Lions would have won. Similarly, they would probably have prevailed had the match not gone to uncontested scrums early in the second half, the direct result of a deeply questionable challenge on Adam Jones by Bakkies Botha, that renowned grand master of the dark arts and the Springboks' enforcer-in-chief.
Peter Jackson in the Daily Mail
As soon as Morne Steyn's guided missile began hurtling from its distant launch pad in enemy territory, the Lions knew there would be no way back.
When it landed seconds later without deviating from its path high above the crossbar during a flight of some 70 yards, the goal left a trail of devastation.
Of all the series lost by the Lions since the war, and heaven knows there have been plenty, there has never been one to match the sheer cruelty of the executioner's unforgiving boot which also put paid to £250,000 in bonus money. The damage, therefore, extended beyond the pitch to bank accounts all over Britain and Ireland, not that any of those left standing at the end of one of the great Test matches gave it a thought.
There was a terrible beauty about this Test match which made it like no other and rarely can the vanquished have been more deserving of victory than the Lions.
A draw would have been scant reward for the imperious way the Lions rallied round the towering Simon Shaw in outplaying the world champions to lead 19-8 going into the final quarter, their finest 60 minutes since The Gabba in 2001.
For the sheer blood and guts behind their creativity to match the Boks try for try over two games, McGeechan's Lions have repaired the damage done by the two previous tours and restored credibility.