The Lions need to discover their own way of playing after losing a dour second Test to South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday.

There was little enjoyment watching this arm wrestle between the world champions and the best players in Ireland and Britain.

Maybe it was a game for the purists and lovers of dark arts, but even at that it's a bit of a push to advocate the type of game we saw to rugby followers, never mind any sporting neutrals trying to be open about the game.

The Rassie Erasmus narrative really went stale quickly last week but unfortunately those tactics won out after the result went the way of the South Africans.

Rassie will feel vindicated and has opened a can of worms with officiating going forward.

Firstly, the whole 'Rassie has lost his marbles’ opinion was wrong and I didn’t agree with the suggestions that a guy of his stature would lose it so badly - it was tactical but it still wasn’t a good look for him or the game.

In contrast, the ‘Rassie is right to do the video and when he wins he’ll be a genius’ opinion was also pretty short sighted.

Both opinions were wearing thin on me and the fact that people discussed it so heavily during the week resulted in the absolute mess that Ben O’Keeffe was stuck with during the actual game.

Ben O'Keeffe explains a decision to the two captains on Saturday

You can't blame the referee fully, but he certainly added to the slow and overly explained nature of the spectacle.

The effort in his explanations was so obvious for all to hear. He had to say the same thing to both captains at every break in play or he would have been guilty of disrespecting someone, somewhere.

You could hear the emphasis put on the words "both teams" and he even had to say at one stage that he would "do the same for the other team". Cautious, technical refereeing at its finest.

In fairness to him, there were a couple of sticky laws that he had to be on top form to handle, including the free-kick at the scrum where Faf de Klerk went for an 8-9 play and came back to the base to control the ball because it was never played. There were more examples where O’Keeffe’s technical refereeing was world class.

Yet, he let the game down badly with some of the basic laws that are put in place for the health of our players and the integrity of the game going forward.

That’s an Erasmus buzz word by the way, "integrity", but the game had less of it after his witchhunt of the officials and subsequently there are further question marks over laws that we thought were a lot clearer these days.

"He landed on his back" was the mitigation given when the weight of Conor Murray’s body falling from a height couldn’t be cushioned by the strength of one of his arms in isolation and consequently, he fell on his head.

If the officials felt that Cheslin Kolbe had lost his bearings and there was no intent in the collision in the air, then say that, despite it having no bearing on the actual law or outcome of the fall.

But to say that something happened and it clearly didn’t, by video evidence, in slow-motion, is incomprehensible.

Rassie Erasmus talks to Faf de Klerk during the game

And this isn’t a further witchhunt on O’Keeffe, he was clearly put in there to be the fairest of officials, with good communication and a top class technical ability. Except, the problem was that he did it under Rassie’s watchful eye.

It says a lot about the game that was played that the two biggest moments in which the electrifying Kolbe was involved in could easily have resulted in a red card for each offence, never mind the fact that he could and should have probably gone for a HIA.

The most entertaining sidestep in the game and he had nothing to do in attack.

The same can be said of the visitors' back three. Anthony Watson had one fantastic moment of footwork which was short lived but he showed why he is nearly always a nailed on starter in the Lions Test team. Nearly.

Stuart Hogg used his trademark mid-air shimmy to create tiny pockets of space to beat one defender but got swallowed up by the covering defence. Other than that, the Lions back three spent their time dropping high balls and giving the advantage to South Africa.

Not to mention that Duhan van der Merve, the third of the back three, could have been shown his own red card for a poorly timed and awkward looking attempt to hack the ball.

It was like you put two South African teams out on the pitch, one in their traditional green jersey and the other in Lions red. And it’s not really that surprising.

The Lions got the rub of the green last week and won some aerial battles and scrum penalties to close out the game while the Springboks gave away seven penalties in the second half to help them to an opening Test win.

Robbie Henshaw was desperately unlucky not to break the deadlock after Conor Murray's kick through

However, I mentioned last week that Warren Gatland would have to move his tactics to get around South Africa for two games in a row. He did not. He stuck with trying to outplay South Africa at their own game, except this time the Lions were a penalty machine and could not win the ball in the air which played into South African hands.

The tactical masterstroke also fell the way of South Africa, using three second rows to shore up their lineout, cut out the Lions ball at the tail and cement their scrum even further.

It really is frustrating because of the attacking prowess of both teams. There were positives in the Lions' play in the first half when they did actually manage to string some phases together and Dan Biggar was varying his kicks to test the South African defensive pressure. At that point, it looked like everything was working.

Kolisi made a timely tackle to prevent Henshaw from grounding the ball

Robbie Henshaw was desperately unlucky not to break the deadlock after Conor Murray’s kick through but the work ethic of the hosts and the strength of Siya Kolisi to stop the try were incredible.

Not everyone would have seen the Kwagga Smith involvement that forced Henshaw to change his line which meant he caught the ball trying to rearrange his body.

It’s a classic example of the small margins and the darker arts and subtleties that we want to be talking about in a game of this magnitude with the ingenuity of the South African backroom staff paired with their environment and passion.

Yet, the gloss was taken off the game with the messing in the lead up during the week, which transferred into the running of the game last Saturday.

The Lions need changes, which they have made but also a change in mindset and a change in game plan because the world champions are getting more game time under their belt and you’re not going to beat them in the third Test playing the kick-counter ruck-penalty game plan that they abide by.

The tourists need their own identity, their own tactics and a Gatland masterplan for the third Test to win the series, something we all know they’re capable of.

They need to do it their own way.

Follow South Africa v Lions third Test with our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app or listen to live commentary with Donal Lenihan and Michael Corcoran on RTÉ's 2fm from 4.45pm Saturday.