New moon rises?for Lions

2014-08-10 15:00

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The golden hue of the supermoon that bathed Joburg’s Ellis Park in shimmering light tonight aptly shone for the Golden Lions as they made a confident start to the Absa Currie Cup season.

Up against their neighbours from across the Jukskei River, the Lions played in the navy-blue-and-white colours of the old Diggers Rugby Club, which was the strip of Transvaal when they first entered the competition, to mark the union’s 125th anniversary. Their win confirmed pretournament predictions that they should be among the favourites to lift the trophy.

The Lions had the edge in most phases and bookended a confident performance by scoring the first and last tries of the game to not only smash their archenemies in the northern derby, but claim a vital bonus point.

Apart from a brief spell soon after the restart, when the Bulls managed to score their only try, the Lions were simply smarter, sharper and faster.

The Joburg side struck first in the fourth minute as they demonstrated their ability to switch from defence to attack as a dropped ball after a high kick was quickly swung wide and centre Stokkies Hanekom ran and jinked inside strongly to carry it over the goal line.

With Marnitz Boshoff continuing to strike the ball as smoothly as he had in Super Rugby, the Lions benefited from the Bulls’ mistakes and the fly half underlined his value by also snapping over a drop goal.

The Bulls had their chances but poor option-taking and continued awkwardness when trying to move the ball cost them dearly just before the break, when an attempted skip pass by Jacques-Louis Potgieter with his line lying too flat was picked off by Ruan Combrinck. The Lions winger needed no further invitation to race away to the far end of the field.

Boshoff’s conversion boosted the Lions to a commanding 20-point lead at the break. The Bulls made the start they needed in the second half, when a snaking counter by fullback Jurgen Visser laid the groundwork for a fine try by Sampie Mastriet.

But the Lions were not to be denied and were soon back in stride and ramping up the pace.

Even the loss of Boshoff due to an arm injury failed to trip up the Lions because his replacement, former schoolboy star Jaco Van der Walt, slotted assuredly into the fly half role and contributed seven points off his right boot.

The Lions had scrummed well throughout and kept up their relentlessly physical defence.

The pressure told in the final quarter as the impressive flanker Jaco Kriel and replacement Warren Tecklenburg, who was driven over the goal line with just seconds left on the clock, scored tries to secure the bonus point.

»?Earlier in the day, The Sharks beat Griquas 31-24 and on Friday Western Province overcame EP Kings 35-15.

In the final match of the weekend last night, the Pumas pulled off an upset against the Cheetahs, winning 28-21.

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