The Golden Lions clinched a 37-21 bonus-point victory against the EP Kings at Ellis Park on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The match that almost didn't happen, as EP Kings players threatened to boycott their trip to Johannesburg over a wage dispute, delivered eight tries. Although a much closer encounter than their round-one meeting, the result went unchanged as the Lions racked up a fifth bonus-point win in as many matches.
The hosts were quick out of the blocks and 12 minutes in found themselves 19-0 up, courtesy of a penalty try and one each from No 8 Kwagga Smith and outside centre Stokkies Hanekom. Jaco van der Walt converted two of the scores.
Soon after, a determined Paul Schoeman broke through a tackle in the Lions' 22, the ball was recycled quickly and wing Siyanda Grey burrowed over for the Kings' first points. Provider turned scorer eight minutes later when the Kings drove over the line and Schoeman got up with the ball to make it a five-point game.
With both teams looking for territorial gain through kicks, Ruan Combrinck changed tack by running from deep. They won a penalty and from the resulting lineout, captain Howard Mnisi sliced through a gap and released Stephan de Witt for the crucial fourth try just before the break.
EP brushed up on their defence in the second half, managing to keep the Lions out until the 70th minute, but not before Schoeman barged over for his second try off the back of another strong driving maul. Flyhalf Karlo Aspeling goaled his third conversion, and the Kings trailed 27-21.
Replacement kicker Marnitz Boshoff's penalty and a late converted try by Combrinck put some gloss on the scoreboard for the table-topping Lions.
The match ended on a sour note, though, as Kings fullback Hansie Graaff was red-carded for a dangerous cleanout at the ruck.
Golden Lions – Tries: Penalty try, Kwagga Smith, Stokkies Hanekom, Stephan de Witt, Ruan Combrinck. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (2), Marnitz Boshoff. Penalties: Van der Walt, Boshoff.
EP Kings – Tries: Siyanda Grey, Paul Schoeman (2). Conversions: Karlo Aspeling (3).
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi (c), 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Lohan Jacobs, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 Martin Muller, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Lourens Erasmus, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jacques Nel.
EP Kings – 15 Hansie Graaff, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Tim Whitehead (c), 11 Sylvian Mahuza, 10 Karlo Aspeling, 9 Dwayne Kelly, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Tazz Fuzani, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Basil Short, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 Eital Bredenkamp, 20 Enrico Acker, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 JP du Plessis.
Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images