Marnitz Boshoff has been at the heart of two shock wins for the Lions and is one of the early finds of the Vodacom Super Rugby season, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Lions stunned the Super Rugby community when they beat the Cheetahs in Round One. Forget the fact that he was making his debut, Boshoff took it upon himself to score all 21 of the Lions points. That victory ensured that the Johannesburg franchise marked their return to the elite competition in emphatic fashion.
A week later, and Boshoff has steered the Lions to an even bigger win over the Stormers. The Cape side has won the South African conference twice, and boasts a number of Springboks in their line-up. They were favourites before this match, especially so considering the Lions’ lack of experienced personnel.
Against every expectation, the Lions led 19-0 after 22 minutes. One of their least-experienced players nailed two drop goals, a conversion, and two penalties to help establish a commanding lead. Ultimately they would win 34-10, with Boshoff contributing 29 points. He didn't miss one attempt at goal.
Boshoff kicked the Lions to a Vodacom Cup title victory in 2013, and went on to top the points table in the subsequent Currie Cup. Super Rugby was always going to demand more of his mettle and accuracy. There was always going to be more on the line, and more questions regarding his quality.
Two games into his Super Rugby career, and Boshoff has more than passed the test. It was composure and accuracy that made all the difference in Bloemfontein, and that same potent blend that helped the Lions to the unlikeliest of wins in Johannesburg a week later.
Credit should go to the Lions as a collective, as well as their coaching staff. They employed the right game plan from the outset, and the players executed it brilliantly. They piled on the points against a Stormers side that has never enjoyed playing catch-up rugby. And then they were good enough to finish off the Cape side.
Boshoff starred with the boot, but he also made a telling tackle early in second half.
The Stormers were chasing the game, and had put the ball into the corner. No 8 Duane Vermeulen had picked the ball up from the base and run at Boshoff, but the flyhalf stood firm. It was yet another big moment where Boshoff showed his resolve.
The Lions lost two players to the sin bin, but incredibly still managed to hang on to a 25-10 lead. The defence during this period was exceptional, not only in terms of the one-on-one physicality but the organisation after each phase.
It was an atypical showing by the Lions, who were not known for their defensive prowess in Super Rugby. It was an unusual performance in the sense that they relied on the boot of their flyhalf to secure victory.
The Lions will not win Super Rugby in 2014, and it’s unlikely that Boshoff will receive a Bok call-up. But these two performances will not have gone unnoticed, and I’m sure there are others – like coaches at the big three South African franchises – who will acknowledge that this guy is the real deal.
BOSHOFF'S 29 POINTS VS STORMERS:
Drop goals: 3
Photo: Louis Botha/Gallo Images