The Golden Lions powered into the final of the Currie Cup after defeating Griquas 34-19 in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions now face an anxious wait for the result between the Free State Cheetahs and Sharks to see who they will face in the title decider next week. Should the Cheetahs win, the Lions will travel to Bloemfontein, but if the Sharks pull off an upset win, the final will be hosted at Ellis Park.
Top of the log for large part of the season, Griquas’ stellar campaign has now halted abruptly. It also brings to an end coach Brent Janse van Rensburg’s time at the Kimberley-based side.
Griquas had most of the early possession and momentum, but will lament a failure to turn that dominance into points as the Lions expertly absorbed the pressure before seizing control of proceedings. Tries by wings Madosh Tambwe and Stean Pienaar had the hosts opening up a 14-7 lead inside the first quarter. Griquas, though, fought to get within a point courtesy of two penalties off the boot of captain George Whitehead.
With half time approaching and a point separating the sides, Hacjivah Dayimani butchered a sure try when he fumbled the ball with the tryline at his mercy. But the hard-running Lions No 8 made up for his error when he breached the defensive line to score and extend his team’s advantage heading into the sheds.
The start of the second half had a rather subdue feel to it as both sides failed to break down the opposition’s defence, resulting in Shaun Reynolds and Whitehead trading four penalties between them.
Realising the result was not yet a sure bet and that Griquas were lurking to take advantage of any slip-up, the Lions worked their way downfield, set an attacking lineout and simply walked over the tryline to help Cyle Brink score the match-sealing touchdown from the back of a maul.
Golden Lions – Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Stean Pienaar, Hacjivah Dayimani. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds. Penalties: Reynolds (2).
Griquas – Try: Chris Smit. Conversion: George Whitehead. Penalties: Whitehead (4).
Golden Lions – 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Duncan Matthews, 11 Stean Pienaar, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje (c), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jan-Louis la Grange 23 Jamba Ulengo.
Griquas – 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (c), 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Zandre Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 Johan Momsen, 19 Neill Jordaan, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Chris Smit, 22 Bjorn Basson, 23 Ruan Kramer.
Photo: Lions Rugby/Twitter