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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Dominant second half performance sees Lions overcome Griffons in Currie Cup clash

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Johannesburg — A dominant second half performance in which the Lions controlled possession, territory and momentum ensured that the Johannesburg-based side finally recorded their first victory of the Currie Cup over a plunky Griffons on Friday afternoon.

For 69 minutes, however, it was a maddening performance from the Lions, for that is how long it took for the hosts to finally find their rhythm and blow the Griffons off at Emirates Airline Park. A hat-trick of tries from scrumhalf Nico Steyn and Raynard Roets saw the Lions win the half 29-3 as they made amends for a poor start.

Head coach Mzwakhe Nkosi will have been pleased with the bonus-point win and how his side controlled the proceedings in the second stanza of the match; but will have chewed his lip in frustration at the manner of the victory and how his charges applied themselves, especially during the first half.

The hosts endured a tough initial 30 minutes when the Griffons took a surprising 23-7 lead through tries from centre Marquit Virgil September and hooker Dandre Delport, and the boot of No 9 Jaywinn Juries. The sanctions to Lions full-back Tiaan Swanepoel in the 15th minute for a deliberate knockdown and Raynard Roets in the 28th for a dangerous play only added to that pressure.

It was a shocking first half display by the Lions, their discipline especially concerning and it only helped Juries and the Griffons build scoreboard pressure. Their disjointed approach in attack did see loose-forward Sibusiso Sangweni score a try for the hosts during this period, but their other initiatives failed miserably.

On the flipside, the Welkom-based outfit played with focus and intent, scoring as early as the third minute and remaining steadfast in their approach throughout the first stanza. The Lions did manage to drag back the Griffons through a Stean Pienaar try just before half-time but did so with hearts-in-mouths due to an investigated forward pass from Swanepoel.

The Lions then turned the screw immediately after half-time and were aided by the yellow carding of captain and No 10 Duan Pretorius and flank Michael Carstens. The Purple People Eaters could not recover for the nine-odd minutes they were down to 13 men due to that fact, and that played a major part in the Lions shifting the momentum, claiming the win and an important five points to add to their collected three.

@FreemanZAR

IOL Sport

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