Lions maul Griquas

2013-10-13 14:00

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Lions guarantee an away semifinal after sending Griquas packing

The Golden Lions made sure that no matter what might happen in Bloemfontein, nothing could affect their semifinal participation.

They won with the required bonus point over the Griquas and thus guaranteed their continued existence in the Currie Cup.

Depending on whether the SA Rugby Union finds some middle ground and decides on an eight-team premier division, the Griquas now face the unenviable task of battling the red-hot Pumas in a promotion/relegation fixture.

The Pumas had clinched the Currie Cup First Division title with a clinical 53-30 win over the Eastern Province Kings in Nelspruit on Friday.

The Lions’ log total of 26 points rendered them safe from any outcome of the clash between the Free State Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein.

To qualify, the Bulls needed a bonus-point win while restricting the Cheetahs to not earning a bonus point.

But a third-place finish for the Lions means a trip away for a play-off game and, even though it may take place in South Africa’s familiar climes, it will not be easy for them.

The Lions’ half-time deficit was an accurate representation of the Griquas’ latent ability to convert pressure into points. Most of the playing was done by the Lions and it was very pretty. The hosts may have won only three matches going into the game, but when it comes to making the game look beautiful, there is no one better at it in the Currie Cup right now.

But they could have done with a bit more pragmatism and composure when it came to finishing chances off, which they only did late in the first half when trailing 16-3 in the 28th minute.

That was down to Gouws Prinsloo’s sharpshooting from the tee and an adventurous breakaway try from winger Rocco Jansen, who had the presence of mind to chip over a flat Lions defence.

With his jet shoes on, he’s not the easiest to catch when put into space. But it was to be the last time the Griquas would sniff the Lions’ 22 for the rest of the half. Up till that point, the Griquas were content to push the Lions deep into their half and capitalise on inevitable errors.

But there’s nothing like trailing by a big margin that awakes Johan Ackermann’s men and, in the space of five minutes, they responded with two contrasting tries to put the game into perspective.

The first was that of loose head prop Jacques van Rooyen, who was the recipient of a sustained Lions attack.

The Griquas defence has been the most porous of the tournament and they never looked like keeping the Lions at bay for more than five phases.

The Griquas have shipped 50 in two consecutive matches, so they were always ripe for the picking.

It was a pity the Lions chose not to exploit this physical weakness, as they had the upper hand in the collisions.

Anthony Volmink’s try was a case of repeating Jansen’s trick, but his feeder chip came from the impressive Marnitz Boshoff inside the Griquas’ 22. Boshoff is flourishing through Elton Jantjies’ injury-enforced absence.

The manner in which the Lions approached the second half was to shut out the visitors. Their intention was always to get the bonus point before securing the win, and it paid off. Their heavy focus on the Griquas’ weak fringe defence led to Willie Wepener’s try, illustrating the gulf in the quality of the teams’ forwards.

If there was one thing the Lions could have avoided, it was the continued use of the rolling maul, which was neutered by sloppy line-out work. Whatever Franco van der Merwe learnt in his time with the Springboks, it was not applied at provincial level.

What they did do was get their bonus-point try through Willie Britz, which was set up by a Warwick Tecklenburg pass that would make any fly half green with envy. The relief in the paltry crowd was palpable. A third-place log finish gives the Lions a chance to host a final should the top two teams slip up.

They weren’t flashy, but their opponents will do well not to underestimate them.

Golden Lions (15) 35 Griquas (19) 28


Golden Lions:

Tries: Jacques van Rooyen, Anthony Volmink, Willie Wepener, Willie Britz

Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2)

Penalties: Boshoff (3)


Tries: Rocco Jansen

Conversions: Gouws Prinsloo

Penalties: Prinsloo (7)

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