Currie Cup

Powerful Lions streak to victory against Cheetahs in one-sided cat fight

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Wandisile Simelane of Golden Lions during the Carling Currie Cup match between Toyota Cheetahs and Xerox Golden Lions XV at Toyota Stadium on December 12, 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)
Wandisile Simelane of Golden Lions during the Carling Currie Cup match between Toyota Cheetahs and Xerox Golden Lions XV at Toyota Stadium on December 12, 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

If there were any doubts that the Lions will struggle in the PRO16's slower conditions next year, their superb 39-23 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday will go some way to dispelling them.

As it happened | Cheetahs v Lions

Granted, conditions in the City of Roses were ideal for regular point-scoring, but head coach Ivan van Rooyen will be truly chuffed with the manner in which this win was achieved.

Criticised as underpowered and unbalanced in the last two seasons - playing an attacking game that lacks the necessary grunt up front - the Lions showcased a new, compelling side to their play.

Five tries confirmed that they haven't lost their attacking edge though it was notable that they used power and precision instead of excessive flair.

The Lions were dominant in the set-pieces, monoplising possession and providing themselves with additional momentum by acing the collisions.

That grunt was evident in at least three of their visits over the whitewash, particularly in the crucial moments before half-time when some patient phase play from a lineout allowed lock Willem Alberts - who did his nickname of 'Bone Collector' justice in this game - to barrel over, granting them a vital lead.

Clearly inspired, the Lions embarked on a 10-minute blitz after the turnaround that delivered three tries and essentially made the game safe.

Flank Jaco Kriel's brilliant run down the wing set up the first of scrumhalf Andre Warner's brace of tries, before a sublime offload from skipper and pivot Elton Jantjies freed up Alberts again to feed Warner mere minutes later.

But the highlight was a rare score for veteran tighthead Jannie du Plessis.

Following bustling blinsider Vince Tshituka's initial burst, fullback Tiaan Swanepoel broke the line, a run that was kept alive well and put into overdrive by some superb interplay from Tshituka and looshead Sti Sithole, who passed to his partner in the front row.

Lock Marvin Orie made sure of the win after muscling over in the 63rd minute.

It was demoralising afternoon for the Cheetahs, who failed to get their hands on the ball and were hamstrung by a litany of penalties.

Two second half tries gave the scoreline a semblance of respectability, but the reality is that Hawies Fourie's troops like a group of men broken by a year of setbacks.

Scorers:

Cheetahs - 23 (9)

Tries: Ruben de Haas, Marnus van der Merwe

Conversion: Tian Schoeman, Frans Steyn

Penalties: Schoeman (2), Steyn

Lions - 39 (13)

Tries: Andre Warner (2), Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis, Marvin Orie

Conversion: Elton Jantjies (4)

Penalties: Jantjies (2)

Teams:

Cheetahs

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Aidon Davis, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Carl Wegner (captain), 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Boan Venter

Substitutes: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Victor Sekekete, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Dries Swanepoel

Lions

15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vince Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Willem Alberts, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole

Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Mannie Rass, 23 Roelof Smit

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