The Lions beat the Brumbies 42-24 in Johannesburg on Saturday to end their three-game losing streak. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Lions lost three out of four matches on their recent tour to Australasia. They were under pressure to bounce back in this fixture against the Brumbies and maintain a healthy lead at the top of the South African conference.
In that respect, coach Swys de Bruin will be a happy man. The Lions got the job done at Ellis Park on Saturday. No matter what happens in the next round, they will go into the June break at the top of the South African rankings.
The Lions’ defence and accuracy at the breakdowns was found wanting, particularly in the early stages. Tom Banks exposed some weak tackling to score in the second minute of the game.
The hosts’ confidence in their set-piece never wavered, though. Rohan Janse van Rensburg powered over after a good platform was established at the scrum.
The Lions turned down a series of kickable penalties thereafter, instead opting to set the lineout and drive over from close range. Two of the three tries scored by the hosts in the first half were via this method.
Indeed, the Brumbies battled to live with the Lions in this department, and lock Rory Arnold was shown a yellow card after sacking a maul illegally. By the end of the half, the hosts had moved into a 21-17 lead.
The visitors hit back in the 53rd minute when Banks ran through replacement flanker Marnus Schoeman. The successful conversion by Christian Lealiifano boosted the Brumbies into a three-point lead.
The visitors were their own worst enemies, though. Arnold hit Elton Jantjies late and high, and was given a red card. The sanction left the Brumbies competing with just 14 men – and seven in the pack – for the final 20 minutes.
The Brumbies were further reduced when Sam Carter impeded at a maul and was shown a yellow card. The Lions didn’t hesitate to kick to touch, set the maul, and drive over for yet another try.
Replacement flyhalf Shaun Reynolds and lock Lourens Erasmus scored late in the piece to secure the result. The Lions went on to claim an important win in the context of their season.
Lions – Tries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Dreyer, Marnus Schoeman, Shaun Reynolds, Lourens Erasmus. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (6).
Brumbies – Tries: Tom Banks (2), Tevita Kuridrani. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (3). Penalty: Lealiifano.
Lions – 1 5 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Corné Fourie, 17 Jacques van Rooyen 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Len Massyn, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Ruan Combrinck.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Andrew Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano (co-c), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter (co-c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Makin, 17 Nick Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Lachlyn McCaffrey, 21 Tom Cusack, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Andrew Smith.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix