Malcolm Marx scored two tries as the Lions muscled their way to a 37-24 bonus-point win against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Both teams came into this clash with a point to prove. In the end, the Lions made a statement by claiming their second consecutive win overseas in 2019.
Earlier in the week, Sanzaar confirmed that the Sunwolves will be axed after the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season. The Japan-based franchise may have been keen to beat the three-time finalists on Saturday and prove that they belong in the tournament.
The Lions were without a host of key players due to injuries. Locks Ruan Vermaak and Stephan Lewies were forced to start the game in the back row as a result.
And yet the Lions dominated at the rucks, with Marx proving particularly effective in winning penalties at the defensive breakdowns. The visitors’ scrum and lineout fired to set a good platform, and from there the Lions scored two tries via well-executed mauls.
It was hardly a polished performance, though. The Lions defence battled in the early stages, and may have conceded a try if not for Sylvian Mahuza sticking his hand out to prevent a pass.
The officials correctly ruled that Mahuza had committed a cynical offence. A penalty try was awarded, and the Lions wing spent the next 10 minutes in the sin bin.
However, the Lions took control of the game from there. After leading 12-7 at the break, another maul set the platform for the third try. Nic Groom took an excellent option to exploit the space round the fringe, and the visitors moved into a seven-point lead.
The momentum was with the Lions. Elton Jantjies scored the visitors’ fourth try, and as the game moved into the final quarter, the Lions were in sight of a bonus-point win.
Aphiwe Dyantyi made an immediate impact off the bench when he broke the line and set up Lionel Mapoe for a score. Hacjivah Dayimani crossed the line at the death to ensure that the Lions finished with five log points.
Sunwolves – Tries: Penalty try, Rahboni Warren Vosayaco (2). Conversions: Hayden Parker (2). Penalty: Parker.
Lions – Tries: Malcolm Marx (2), Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe, Hacjivah Dayimani. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.
Sunwolves – 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7 Dan Pryor (c), 6 Ben Gunter, 5 Tom Rowe, 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Koo Ji Won, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Alex Woonton, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Lelei Mafi, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Takuya Yamasawa, 23 Hosea Saumaki.
Lions – 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Nic Groom, 8 Ruan Vermaak, 7 Stephan Lewies, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (c), 1 Sti Sithole .
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Nathan Macbeth, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Hacjivah Dayimani, 20 James Venter, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Gianni Lombard, 23 Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Photo: Roslan Rahman /AFP/Getty Images