Shaun Reynolds kicked a late penalty to hand the Golden Lions a thrilling 24-22 win over the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Lions overturned a huge deficit to beat Western Province last week, and produced a replica performance to do so again this week to sink the previously unbeaten Cheetahs.
The result sees the Lions not only maintain their perfect start to the campaign, but also lifts them to the top of the log above the Cheetahs and Griquas.
Thanks to a confident start, the hosts sped out to a 19-point lead with tries from Joseph Dweba, Walt Steenkamp and Marnus van der Merwe. Tian Schoeman kicked the first conversion but when he was forced off with an injury, Benhard Janse van Rensburg took over the kicking duties.
During that period of Cheetahs domination, the Lions were erratic and had very little going for them. However, the visitors’ easily recognisable Marnus Schoeman with his flash blonde hair was superb in defence and on the ground.
And once the flash blonde flank gained better support from his teammates, they rocked the Cheetahs by scoring 21 unanswered points to unexpectedly hit the front.
Madosh Tambwe scored late in the first half followed by tries from fellow backs Tyrone Green and Wandisile Simelane.
Going behind seemed to rattle the Cheetahs, whose error count and questionable decision making increased as the game wore on.
Home captain Tian Meyer turned down multiple kickable penalty opportunities that would have seen them regain the lead. But his gamble to take the scrum in search of maxinum points didn’t pay off as the Lions survived the onslaught.
On their ninth penalty, the Cheetahs finally opted to kick at goal and when Louis Fouché split the uprights they took a one-point lead.
But the Lions landed the telling blow when Reynolds converted the match-deciding penalty in the last minute.
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Joseph Dweba, Walt Steenkamp, Marnus van der Merwe. Conversions: Tian Schoeman, Bernhard Janse van Rensburg. Penalty: Louis Fouché.
Golden Lions – Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Tyrone Green, Wandisile Simelane. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (3). Penalty: Reynolds.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Darren Adonis, 14 Tapiwa Mafura, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Marnus van der Merwe, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Abongile Nonkontwana, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Ruan Pienaar, 23 Louis Fouché.
Golden Lions – 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Jan-Louis la Grange, 11 Stean Pienaar; 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronjé (c), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Leo Kruger, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 James Venter, 21 Len Massyn, 22 Dillon Smit, 23 Manuel Rass.
Photo: Lions Rugby