The Lions gave skipper Burger Odendaal the perfect send-off with a rousing victory over Benetton on Saturday afternoon at Ellis Park.
It was Odendaal’s final match at Ellis Park for the Lions before joining Wasps in the English Premiership, and the Joburgers fought back from a first-half deficit to cap their home Vodacom United Rugby Championship campaign in style.
Trailing by only a converted try at half time, the Lions made the perfect start to the second half when Edwill van der Merwe scored from the restart. Jordan Hendrikse added the extras to level the score at 22-22.
Stean Pienaar added his name to the scoresheet after Manuel Zuliani saw yellow for Benetton, and Hendrikse scored and converted to stretch the hosts’ lead.
The Lions flyhalf nailed his second penalty of the match, before Lorenzo Cannone bagged a late consolation for the visitors, but Ivan van Rooyen’s men hung on for the 37-29 win.
Hendrikse opened the scoring from the kicking tee before Ruben Schoeman crossed the whitewash.
Tomas Albornoz replied with a well-struck drop goal, and Benetton went in front after Rhyno Smith converted his own try, Hendrikse seeing yellow in the buildup to the score.
The Italians increased their lead when Filippo Drago completed a breakout down the middle of the park, Smith adding the extras.
Smith squeezed through a gap for his second of the game, but missed the conversion, and Morne van den Berg pulled one back for Lions just after the hooter.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) April 30, 2022
— vodacomrugby (@VodacomRugga) April 30, 2022