The Lions claimed their first win in Sydney with a 29-0 bonus-point victory over the Waratahs on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Coach Swys de Bruin will be a happy man. The Lions have finally won a Super Rugby match in Sydney. More importantly, at least in the context of the 2018 season, they have come away from their first tour fixture with five valuable log points.
Perhaps the Lions will also take heart from the fact that they have beaten the Australian conference leaders on their home turf. The result in Sydney also marked the first win by a South African franchise in Australia this season.
Few would have predicted such an emphatic scoreline after witnessing the first 20 minutes of the contest. The Waratahs were on top during that period, and the Lions were forced to defend. The little possession the visitors had, they proceeded to squander through poor handling and kicking.
The Lions never stood back for the Waratahs at the collisions and breakdowns, though. Malcolm Marx bumped off the giant winger Taqele Naiyaravoro early on, and also made a crucial breakdown turnover under his own posts.
Ruan Combrinck and Kwagga Smith combined later in the half to fracture the Waratahs defence. Madosh Tambwe finished to hand the Lions the lead, as well as some momentum.
Smith scored a try of his own shortly after the break. The Waratahs had no answer to the Lions maul, and the flanker managed to power through the final defender. At 12-0, the Lions were well on top.
The TV replays suggested that Smith had lost the ball at the crucial moment. To say that this score was decisive, however, would be inaccurate.
Indeed, the Lions continued to grow in confidence at the set pieces, collisions and breakdowns. They made their territorial advantage count when Harold Vorster finished for the team’s third try.
Elton Jantjies nailed a penalty goal in the 71st minute to extend the visitors’ lead to 22 points. Thereafter, replacement flanker Marnus Schoeman broke the line after yet another successful lineout take from the Lions, and smashed through the last defender.
The Lions will play the Reds in Brisbane and then the Hurricanes and Highlanders in New Zealand in the coming weeks.
Lions – Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Kwagga Smith, Harold Vorster, Marnus Schoeman. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalty: Jantjies.
Waratahs – 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damian Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Will Miller, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Lalakai Foketi.
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Franco Mostert (c), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Photo: David Neilson/Photosport