Lions cubs battle against 13-man EP

A young Lions team struggled to a 54-24 win over a 13-man EP Elephants side in a turgid stop-start affair in Gqeberha on Wednesday afternoon.

Play of the day: Trailing 7-0 and playing with 14 men at the time, the EP Elephants produced a moment of counter-attacking magic in the first half. The Lions appeared to have cleared their line after coming under pressure. However, quick thinking from wing Chris Hollis had him take a quick lineout and combine excellently with captain Courtney Winnaar. After getting a pass back from Winnaar, Hollis showed plenty of gas to outsprint the cover defence to score.

Turning points: The EP Elephants received a massive early blow when lock Arnold Kleyn was red-carded for a dangerous tackle. While the hosts conceded an early try, they showed plenty of heart to stick in the contest and grab a couple of tries of their own in the first half. With their backline struggling to put anything of worth together, the Lions turned to their pack advantage in the second half and were able to grab two quick tries. However, to their credit, EP would not go down without a fight and – despite losing flank CJ Velleman to a red card – scored another couple of tries. Incredibly, Peter de Villiers’ team was drawing the second half 12-12 while playing with 13 men. Ultimately, the Lions were able to add a bit of gloss on the scoreline with three tries in the last 10 minutes.

Key takeaways: Despite their poor discipline, EP coach Peter de Villiers would have been delighted with his team’s fighting spirit after their heavy defeat by the Vodacom Bulls 10 days ago. This is also considering that they suffered a couple of injuries in their front row after Kleyn was red-carded, which should prompt questions as to why a red-carded player cannot be replaced during this pre-season series. While the Lions essentially fielded their U21 side, they will be disappointed with their overall performance, especially considering they struggled to finish off their opportunities against a side playing with 13 men for most of the match.

Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack