Shaun Reynolds scored 22 points as the Golden Lions recorded an emphatic 47-14 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Lions scored seven tries to two from the Cheetahs, and the result was effectively sealed within the opening 30 minutes as the hosts opened up a 26-0 lead.
The bonus-point win sees the Lions move back to the top of the log, and with one of their three remaining games set to be played at home and another away to the Pumas, they look well placed to remain in pole position.
As for this inexperienced Cheetahs side, if their previous three defeats hadn’t already ended their title aspirations, this fourth defeat certainly did. The Cheetahs will take on the Pumas and Griquas in their two last games of the season, but those will be dead rubbers.
It was one-way traffic from the outset as the Lions displayed an ever-present willingness to play an ambitious running game, which was well supported by their accuracy on defence and near-perfect kicking from Reynolds.
The hosts raced out to a 19-point lead inside the first quarter of the game, with Sylvian Mahuza scoring twice, while Reynolds also dotted down and added two of the three conversions.
The relentless pressure didn’t let up, forcing the Cheetahs to make tackle after tackle. But considering they had 70 tackle attempts and missed 24 after just 25 minutes, they didn’t do a very good job of it.
From a lineout, Lions captain Marvin Orie, who was full of running, found gaps in the opposition’s defence and burrowed over for their bonus-point try. Reynolds then dashed over for his second of the game as the Lions took a commanding 33-point lead into the break.
The Cheetahs were much improved in the second half. They retained possession well and through their excellent ball retention managed to halt the Lions’ momentum. The visitors were rewarded with two tries, scored by Louis Fouche and Rudy Paige, but that was it for them.
It would be the Lions who finished with a flourish. Despite being frustratingly kept quiet, backs Howard Mnisi and Hacjivah Dayimani darted over in the last five minutes to complete the rout.
Golden Lions – Tries: Sylvian Mahuza (2), Shaun Reynolds (2), Marvin Orie, Howard Mnisi, Hacjivah Dayimani. Conversions: Reynolds (6).
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Louis Fouche, Rudy Paige. Conversions: Fouche (2).
Golden Lions – 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Corné Fourie, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Stephen Bhasera, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Vincent Tshituka, 21 Bradley Thain, 22 Wandisile Simelane.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Ali Mgijima, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Tersius Kruger, 11 Lloyd Greeff, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Rudy Paige (c), 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Stephan Malan, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Louis Conradie, 3 Gunther Janse van Vuuren, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Kevin Stevens.
Subs: 16 Jannes Snyman, 17 Johan Kotze, 18 Luigi van Jaarsveld, 19 Nardus Erasmus, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Vuyani Maqina, 22 Reinhart Erwee.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images