Lions resist late WP surge

Date published: September 13 2014

The Currie Cup battle at Ellis Park was one for the Golden Lions to celebrate, winning 35-33 as Western Province battled back late on.

The Currie Cup battle at Ellis Park was one for the Golden Lions to celebrate, winning 35-33 as Western Province battled back late on.

The contest provided top-class entertainment from start to finish with the hosts gaining the upper-hand early in the second half when they scored two quickfire tries.

The first of those came courtesy of Armand van der Merwe who rewarded the faith show by his coaches – after he was promoted to the starting line-up – by delivering a man of the match performance.

Lock Franco Mostert scored his team's fourth of the evening with Van der Merwe again playing his part by delivering the final pass.

Western Province did extremely well to salvage the losing bonus point with a score on the buzzer by Michael Rhodes, although there will undoubtedly be huge disappointment as it marked their first defeat of the competition.

In what was always going to be a high-tempo derby, neither of the sides disappointed as they kept ball-in-hand and only kicked when there truly wasn't any other option.

After an enterprising start to the showdown, Lions loose-head Schalk van der Merwe dived over for his team's first try as the home side capitalised from a quick throw-in at a line-out just inside Province territory.

Full-back Andries Coetzee sliced through an unstructured Province defensive line to get his side on the front foot – allowing the big man to go over next to the right-hand upright.

Both sides looked dangerous when allowed some space in broken play and when considering the pace of the contest a few casualties were always going to be on the cards.

The Lions were first to lose a man when lock MB Lusaseni limped-off with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

Province would later have to make do without hooker Stephan Coetzee who took a nasty blow to his head.

Although they kept probing, coming within striking distance of the home side's line, the visitors were forced to settle for points through the boot of fly-half Kurt Coleman to open their account.

The first of many magical moments of the evening involved the ever elusive Cheslin Kolbe who took advantage of quality first phase ball before selling a dummy, straightening the line and catching the attention of the last defender before offloading to WP skipper Juan de Jongh who dotted down without a finger being laid on him.

This would mark the first time that Province enjoyed the lead

Entering the match with a 100 percent goal-kicking record, wing Ruan Combrinck missed his first penalty of the competition after the Lions were rewarded for their dominance at scrum-time.

He would later make-up for it with impressive conversions from tries scored out wide, but in the meantime the visitors controlled the territorial game with replacement hooker Scarra Ntobeni making good yards with ball in hand.

Still they weren't able to replicate the try-scoring technique seen earlier and relied on Coleman to extend their lead to 10 points with as many minutes remaining in the first-half.

Jaco van der Walt, however, had other ideas and showed that there is more to him than a solid tactical kicking game when he broke the line to send Lions captain Lionel Mapoe over for his team's second try.

While being the more dominant of the two exciting sides, the visitors entered the break trailing 14-13.

Province snatched the lead back at the start of the second stanza with another Coleman penalty, but would again be disappointed that they didn't get more reward from the early pressure applied.

The pivot converted another kick to extend his side's advantage to 14-19 before the two decisive Lions tries dashed any hopes they had of leaving the Highveld with a win under their belts.

The scorers:

For Golden Lions:
Tries: S.Van der Merwe, Mapoe, A.Van der Merwe, Kriel, Mostert
Cons: Combrinck 5

For Western Province:
Tries: De Jongh, Geduld, Rhodes
Cons: Coleman, Geduld, Catrakilis
Pens: Coleman 4

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe (capt), 12 Stokkies Hanekom, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ricky Schroeder, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel/Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg/Steph de Wit, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Howard Mnisi.

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (capt), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Manuel Carizza, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Demetri Catrakilis, 22 Justin Geduld.

Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Tahla Ntshakaza
TMO: Willie Vos

By MIchael Mentz