The Lions finally ended their miserable 17-match losing streak in Super Rugby after beating the Cheetahs 25-20 on Saturday.
The Lions finally ended their miserable 17-match losing streak in Super Rugby after beating the Cheetahs 25-20 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
In a typically tense and physical South African derby between the former allies (when they were known as the Cats), the lead changed hands on no less than five occasions.
The Lions scored two tries through former Cheetahs wing Lionel Mapoe and flank Derick Minnie while the hosts had only an Andries Strauss' five-pointer to show for their efforts.
The rest of the match was dictated by the two young fly-halves, Sias Ebersohn and Elton Jantjies, who exchanged penalties throughout the tight contest.
Despite being reduced to 14 men when full-back James Kamana was sent off for a tip-tackle on Ebersohn, the Lions showed great composure for a relatively inexperienced side and held out to win the match.
Cheetahs number eight Ashley Johnson came close to scoring a decisive try, but only succeeded in knocking the ball on in his drive for the line.
Lions fans endured 1,360 minutes of Super Rugby without a win and would hope for this victory to be the turning point. Even coach John Mitchell failed to contain his delight as the final whistle confirmed the result. After nearly two years and 18 Super Rugby matches, the Lions have won a game.
Pens: Sias Ebersohn 5
Tries: Mapoe, Minnie
Pens: Jantjies 4
Cheetahs: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Philip Snyman, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 WP Nel, 2 Rayno Barnes, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 Kobus Calldo, 18 Kabamba Floors, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Fabien Juries.
Lions: 15 James Kamana, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies La Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe (c), 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patrick Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jaco Taute.
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)