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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Lions seal bonus-point win over Griffons in Welkom to keep slim Currie Cup hopes alive

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Cape Town — The Lions ended their Currie Cup round-robin campaign on Friday with a 39-22 victory over a spirited Griffons who never went away in the clash.

Every time it looked like the visitors would pull away in the game, the home side hit back in front of a loud Welkom crowd to keep their team in the game.

In the end, the Lions sealed a bonus point victory after scoring four tries in the first half, but they found it way more difficult in the second 40 to break down the Purple People Eaters and their defence.

The men from Ellis Park currently sit in the fourth spot on 36 points, above the Bulls who have one more game on Saturday, and can still qualify for the play-offs should the Pretoria side fail to get any points from their clash with the Cheetahs, and Western Province lose to the Sharks in Cape Town.

When hooker Jaco Visagie scored the fourth and bonus-point try sprinting down the wing from his own half, it looked like the visitors were going to pull away and score a comprehensive victory with the try right before the half-time hooter. It also came at a time when they were down 14 men after a yellow card for dangerous play.

The other tries, two scored within six minutes of each other, took the Lions away from the Griffons after the home team kept up with the more fancied visitors stacked with players from their United Rugby Championship side.

Busy Lions flanker JC Pretorius opened his team’s scoring with a try before the Griffons hit back.

But the two quick-fire tries from the visitors, between the 20th and 30th minutes of play, swung momentum totally in their favour.

First, lock Ruben Schoeman, who received the yellow card for the dangerous tackle, powered over after a patient build-up by his fellow forwards.

Nippy scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba put in a good kick to put winger Boldwin Hansen over for the other quick-fire try in that stanza.

The Griffons fought back in the second half, and at a point looked like they would catch up to the Lions after reducing the score to 29-22 at one point.

That was thanks to tries by Carel-Jan Coetzee and hooker HP van Schoor who showed good hands and skills in the build-up to his try. He received the ball on the inside to run in for the score.

But critical errors kept the Griffons from completing a comeback, and a late converted try by replacement Raynard Roets had the Lions win comfortably in the end.

The Joburg side struggled in the scrums, and a few penalties were given against them, but they also won penalties in the second half with their scrum.

If the Griffons did better in their lineouts, especially when they were on the attack, it would probably have been a long day at the office for the Lions.

But, they took their points when it mattered and with good defence forced errors from the Welkom side that eventually could not cope with the pressure they were put under.

Point-scorers

Griffons 22 (7): Tries: Rian Oliver, Carel-Jan Coetzee, HP van Schoor. Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (2). Penalty: Juries.

Lions 39 (26): Tries: JC Pretorius, Boldwin Hansen, Jaco Visagie, Raynard Roets. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (3), Gianni Lombard. Penalties: Nohamba (2).

@Leighton_K

IOL Sport

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