Wing Madosh Tambwe scored four tries as the Lions began their 2019 Currie Cup campaign with a thrilling 38-37 win against the Pumas in Johannesburg on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
In a scrappy, helter-skelter tournament opener for both sides, a youthful Lions side was made to work for this victory against the high-flying Pumas still riding a wave of confidence after a good showing in the recently concluded Provincial Rugby Challenge.
Trailing by three at the break in front of a virtually empty Ellis Park, the hosts needed a surging second-half performance to overcome the Pumas. And while they couldn’t prevent the visitors from scoring freely, the Lions simply outscored them to get the desired result.
With the exception of a couple of shaky scrum feeds, the Lions’ powerful set piece and lethal back-play laid the foundation for their victory. There were also encouraging signs on attack for the hosts, with fullback Tyrone Green, centre Wayne van der Bank and Tambe emerging as the main threats.
This contest initially featured an interesting clash of styles, with the Pumas utilising their impressive scrum and powerful maul to gain good rewards, while the Lions embraced a typically ambitious ball-in-hand approach.
Ironically, the Pumas’ first try came from a Lions mistake. The ball was fumbled in the backline and Pumas flank Carel du Preez made a play for the ball with a kick through, good chase and an excellent pick-up to score.
Tambwe then bagged a brace, one either side of a second Pumas touchdown as the sides were locked at 14-14 with half time approaching. But a penalty by Marais gave the visitors a slender three-point advantage at the break.
The second half was as chaotic as it was enthralling, with tries coming thick and fast.
Immediately after the restart, Green dotted down to edge the Lions ahead. However, the Pumas scored 20 unanswered points to take a commanding 37-21 lead heading into the last 15 minutes.
From there, it seemed as if the Pumas might cruise to victory, but the Lions came roaring back as Tambwe and Shaun Reynolds scored three tries between them to secure a smash-and-grab win.
Lions – Tries: Madosh Tambwe (4), Tyrone Green, Shaun Reynolds. Conversions: Reynolds (4).
Pumas – Tries: Carel du Preez, Le Roux Roets, Etienne Taljaard, Morgan Naude. Conversions: Kobus Marais (4). Penalties: Marais (3).
Lions – 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Stean Pienaar, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronjé (c), 8 James Venter, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Ruben Schoeman, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Jan-Louis la Grange.
Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Neil Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell (c), 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Carel du Preez, 6 Jeandre Rudolph, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Subs: 16 Cornelius Els, 17 Wikus Groenewald, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ashlon Davids, 21 Christopher Smith, 22 Henko Marais, 23 Morgan Naude.
Photo: Gallo Images