Challenge Cup: Lions and Cheetahs progress to knockouts after beating Dragons and Pau respectively

Planet Rugby
Andre Warner for Lions

The Lions held off a second-half surge from the Dragons to claim a 30-25 win in Caerphilly in the Challenge Cup as both clubs reached the Round of 16.

The South Africans made a strong start and took an early 3-0 advantage thanks to Jordan Hendrikse’s boot but the Welsh region scored the first try of the match through Will Reed after they utilised a penalty advantage but missed the kick to keep the score at 5-3.

After an even opening to the contest, a first-half procession then started for the visitors as they scored 24 unanswered points going into the interval.

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Quan Horn went over for the Lions‘ first try before Edwin van de Merwe ran through for their second and the scoring for the first period was rounded off with three penalties from Hendrikse which gave them a 27-5 lead at the break.

Another Hendrikse penalty further extended their advantage after the break, but the Dragons comeback started when prop Aki Seiuli forced himself over the whitewash after Brodie Coghlan was deemed just short.

Jordan Williams cruised over the line untouched to draw the hosts further back in the contest and Rio Dyer touched down in the corner to make it 30-22 with just under a quarter of the game to go.

Despite JJ Hanrahan’s late penalty to make it a five-point game, helping the Dragons claim their two losing bonus-points, the Lions held on for their second win in Pool B.

Cheetahs edge Pau in tight game

Elsewhere, the Cheetahs kicked a penalty goal with the clock in the red as they beat Pau 9-6 to book their place in the Challenge Cup Round of 16.

Siya Masuku was the hero for the South African outfit as his long-range effort saw them progress into the knockout stages in sixth place in Pool B.

Masuku fired over his other two penalties in the 23rd and 65th minute with Pau’s two penalties coming from Thibault Debaes as they miss the cut.

The Cheetahs will now face a trip to Toulon in the last 16 while the Lions will play host to Racing 92, who drop down from the Champions Cup.

The Round of 16 Challenge Cup games are set to take place over the weekend of March 31-April 2, with a final schedule confirmed at a later date.

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