Lions punish Pumas

The Golden Lions scored 10 tries as they roared to a resounding 68-26 win over the Pumas at Ellis Park on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Playing in their first game of the new Currie Cup Premier Division season, the defending champs would have been mightily pleased with a dominant opening performance from a new-look side that’s missing a host of Bok stars.

Although the Lions looked typically impressive with ball in hand, it must be said that the Pumas’ defence left a lot to be desired, and they ultimately conceded a number of soft tries.

The Lions made the most emphatic start to proceedings when lock Lourens Erasmus pounced on a loose ball from the first kick-off and cantered over to score after just nine seconds of action.

It was an early indication that it was likely to be a long afternoon for the Pumas, with Lions flyhalf Jaco van der Walt the next to score as the hosts quickly opened up a handy lead within the opening 10 minutes.

Although the Lions saw both Akker van der Merwe and Jacques van Rooyen then sent to the sin bin for cynical offences, the Pumas failed to score any points during the time they had the numbers advantage.

However, it should also be pointed out that in a bizarre incident when players were coming and going, the Lions were penalised for accidentally fielding an extra man for a brief period when their two front rowers were in the sin bin.

Nevertheless, the Lions stretched their advantage when winger Anthony Volmink scored a stunning solo try in the 22nd minute, while Cyle Brink added another before the half-hour mark.

The Pumas did manage to receive some reward for their efforts when Marlou van Niekerk and Kwezi Mona went over to score, but there was very little else to shout about for the visitors, with their defence regularly letting them down.

In a big moment just before the break, the Pumas lost the ball while on attack in the red zone, and although many teams would have simply looked to clear the ball out of the danger zone, the Lions opted to break out from within their in-goal area.

Centre Howard Mnisi produced a beautiful run and offload before the ball was finally shifted to a flying Sylvian Mahuza, who went over to score under the posts and effectively complete a 14-point swing.

The Pumas’ porous defence was once again shown up in the first 10 minutes after half-time, with Mahuza first breaking through a host of missed tackles before the ball was recycled for Akker van  der Merwe to score, while Howard Mnisi broke through next to go over for the Lions’ seventh try.

At 47-14 up with half an hour left to play, it looked set to turn into a complete rout. And while Justin van Staden and Devon least managed to score two consolation tries to clinch a bonus point for the Pumas, Lions backs Koch Marx, Marnitz Boshoff and Volmink all added to the Lions’ impressive try tally before full-time.

Golden Lions – Tries: Lourens Erasmus, Jaco van der Walt, Anthony Volmink (2), Cyle Brink, Sylvian Mahuza, Akker van der Merwe, Howard Mnisi, Koch Marx, Marnitz Boshoff. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (6), Marnitz Boshoff (3).
Pumas – Tries: Marlou van Niekerk, Kwezi Mona, Justin van Staden, Devon Williams. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3).

Golden Lions – 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Koch Marx, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi (c), 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronjé (c), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Steph de Wit, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Corné Fourie.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 MB Lusaseni, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jacques Nel.

Pumas – 15 Justin van Staden, 14 Jean-Paul Lewis, 13 Hennie Skorbinski, 12 Marlou van Niekerk, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Nardus van der Walt, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (c), 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Louis Albertse, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Kwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Herne Frank, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Jannie Stander, 19 Carel Greef, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Devon Williams.

Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis