The Lions’ rampant set piece laid the platform for a shock 23-17 win against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Heavy losses to the Sharks in Johannesburg and to the Brumbies in Canberra saw the Lions travelling to Hamilton as underdogs. They suffered further setbacks in the buildup when a senior player in Courtnall Skosan, as well as coaches Swys de Bruin and Joey Mongalo, were forced to return to South Africa.
Evidently those losses did little to dent the team spirit. The late decision to push Malcolm Marx and Elton Jantjies into the starting side proved inspired, as the Springbok hooker and flyhalf – playing at No 12 in this clash – had a big influence on the contest.
The star of the show, however, was the man with No 3 on his back. Carlu Sadie put a lot of pressure on opposite number Angus Ta’avo at the scrums, and it was from those resultant penalties that the Lions picked up valuable points and territory.
The collective effort at the set pieces and mauls was outstanding. Marvin Orie and Warren Whiteley stood out at the lineout. A well-executed maul culminated in a try for Sadie in the 35th minute.
The Lions finished the half with a flourish. Jantjies fixed two defenders and then found his captain on his outside. Whiteley summed up the situation well, and opted to kick for Aphiwe Dyantyi to chase.
The Bok winger collected the loose ball and completed the score. Jantjies converted to see the Lions leading 20-0 at half-time.
The Chiefs attempted to up the tempo at the start of the second stanza. The Lions defence repelled the hosts until the 61st minute, when Sean Wainui crossed the line for his team’s first points.
Nepo Laulala scored the Chiefs’ second try to set up a tense finish to the game. Tumua Manu added a third in the 76th minute to bring the hosts within sight of a big comeback victory.
The Lions maintained their composure in the dying stages, though. Jantjies hit a late drop goal to steer his side to an important win away from home.
Chiefs – Tries: Sean Wainui, Nepo Laulala, Tumua Manu. Conversion: Marty McKenzie.
Lions – Tries: Carlu Sadie, Aphiwe Dyantyi. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (2). Drop goal: Jantjies.
Chiefs – 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Ataata Moeakiola, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (c), 8 Taleni Seu, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Angus Ta’avao.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Tumua Manu, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Elton Jantjies, 11 Aphiwe Dyanti, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Frans Van Wyk, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Franco Naude, 23 Ruan Combrinck.
Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images