The Lions gave their Currie Cup play-off aspirations a shot in the arm on Saturday courtesy of a 40-29 win over the Griquas.
The Lions gave their Currie Cup play-off aspirations a shot in the arm on Saturday courtesy of a 40-29 win over the Griquas in Johannesburg.
The game was probably decided around half-time when the Lions added two converted tries and a penalty to their 16-15 lead to increase their advantage to 33-15.
Thereafter, Griquas had to play catch-up against a team which looked more resolute and sharper than they did before the break.
Once again, Lions fly-half Elton Jantjies had an immaculate kicking afternoon with eight from eight attempts. With last week's full house of ten, he has now kicked 18 consecutive successful kicks in two matches and a total of 19 including the previous match.
The first-half was hard and tight but also filled with a number of errors and poor options from both sides. To a large extent, the Lions were their own enemy as they ran at every opportunity with disregard for the field situation.
Griquas effectively slowed down much of the Lions' possession but were also penalised to the extent where they received a final warning for side-entry and slowing down just before the break when the Lions got their second try through full-back Jaco Taute.
It was a fine try, set up after the hooter by a perfect little stab kick inside his own half by Jantjies with the try coming after a number of phases and a penalty against Griquas following a ruck infringement.
Earlier, Griquas took the lead after 12 minutes when Rocco Jansen scored after the Lions' midfield defence slipped up. With Jantjies adding his second and third penalties, the Lions were up 9-5 when Griquas, on attack, took the ball through two phases before prop Jean Botha drove through to regain the lead for his team (12-9 to Griquas).
The strong running of flank Josh Strauss brought a new dimension to the Lions' play, and the big former Matie often went over the advantage line. He was rewarded when a pass found him wide out and with Jantjies' conversion taking the score to 16-15 in favour of the Lions.
Then came Taute's first try, also converted by Jantjies to make it 23-15 to at half-time.
Just after the restart, Jano Vermaak kicked and chased with the ball rolling towards the tryline but was held back. Griquas replacement hooker Ryno Barnes was yellow-carded and the three points by Jantjies from right in front made it 26-15.
Barely a minute later, it was Man of the Match Vermaak again, this time following up and receiving a perfect pop pass from Derrick Minnie after the flank had broken the line. Taute was on hand to run 40 metres for his second try under the posts (33-15).
Griquas hit back with 14 players from deep in their own half and with Riaan Viljoen prominent in what became a glorious try. Bjorn Basson added another one to his tally for the season for Olivier to convert, and at 33-22 the visitors were coming back.
The game was now more spectacular with both sides striving to get the break-through and the impasse was broken after a sequence of quick rucks enabled Taute to break through a tackle before sending wing Jannie Boshoff over for Jantjies to convert (40-22).
Griquas had the better of the remaining 13 minutes or so and their efforts were rewarded when replacement Rudi Vogt went over near the posts and converted himself (40-29) with only second remaining.
For the Lions:
Tries: Taute 2, Strauss, Boshoff
Cons: Jantjies 4
Pens: Jantjies 4
Tries: Jansen, Botha, Basson, Vogt
Cons: Olivier 2, Vogt
The Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe (capt), 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Wayne Swart, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Renaldo Bothma, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Marius Delport.
Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Rocco Jansen, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Johan van Deventer, 5 Cecil Kemp, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Jean Botha, 2 Simon Westraad, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements:16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Burger Schoeman, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Jean Stemmet/Richard Lawson, 22 Rudi Vogt Human.
Referee: Jaco Peyper