The Golden Lions overcame a stubborn EP Kings side to record a 41-22 victory in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
Johan Ackermann would've been pleased to see his side come away with a bonus point, despite a scratchy performance that mixed the good with the mediocre. Their usually reliable scrum came under immense pressure and they struggled for accuracy at the breakdowns, although their bench helped them find another gear when required.
The Kings made life difficult for the visitors, but again lacked composure at crucial moments in the match.
The Lions got the scoring underway, taking the ball through 16 phases before Jaco Kriel eventually crashed over from close range. Loosehead prop Ruan Dreyer would add the second a couple minutes later as the game threatened to run the same course as the meeting at Ellis Park, which ended in a 60-19 victory for the Lions.
The Kings showed some fight and were rewarded with a penalty try and a numerical advantage after Lionel Mapoe had illegally halted a rolling maul. They drew level shortly thereafter, with Shane Gates latching onto a clever George Whitehead kick.
Schalk van der Merwe would get the Lions' third from a well worked set-piece move, before Siviwe Soyizwapi went over in the dying embers of the first half for his first Currie Cup try. Scott van Breda's touchline conversion struck the upright, and that was all that separated the teams at half-time, with the Lions leading 21-19.
The Kings hit the front early in the second half through a George Whitehead drop goal splitting the uprights. It would be the last time they would trouble the scorers as they flagged badly as the game wore on.
Franco Mostert wrapped up the bonus point with 10 minutes remaining, before a Derick Minnie try after the hooter added some gloss to the scoreline.
EP Kings – Tries: penalty try, Shane Gates, Siviwe Soyizwapi. Conversions: Scott van Breda (2). Drop goal: George Whitehead.
Golden Lions – Tries: Jaco Kriel, Ruan Dreyer, Schalk van der Merwe, Franco Mostert, Derick Minnie. Conversions: Ruan Combrinck (5). Penalties: Combrinck (2).
EP Kings – 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Steven Sykes (c), 4 David Bulbring, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 BG Uys,
Subs: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Shaun McDonald, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Dwayne Jenner, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Golden Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Lionel Mapoe (c), 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Andries Coetzee, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Ricky Schroeder, 22 Howard Mnisi.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images