Johannesburg - A dead-rubber battle between two of South Africa's running-minded
teams did not disappoint as the Lions mauled the Cheetahs 60-25 in their
final Super Rugby match in Johannesburg on Saturday.
As it happened: Lions v Cheetahs
Going into the encounter, only two points separated the two sides and with the victory the Lions finished their first season back in the competition as the fourth best side in the country.
The hosts enjoyed a commanding 27-13 lead at half-time, mostly thanks to their dominance in the set-pieces.
Yellow cards were plentiful as the match referee sent three Cheetahs players and one Lions player to the sin bin.
The visitors put the first points on the board with flyhalf Johan Goosen succeeding with a penalty conversion six minutes into the encounter before his opposite number, Elton Jantjies, levelled the scores.
In the context of the match, it took rather long for the first try to be scored in the 17th minute, but thereafter the floodgates opened.
The first try of the match went to Cheetahs fullback Willie le Roux, who finished after winger Raymond Rhule made the initial break.
Jantjies pulled back three points in the 20th minute with a penalty goal before his side scored their first of many tries, three minutes later.
Lions winger Lionel Mapoe proved to be their most prolific try-scorer on the night, scoring a hat-trick of tries.
Mapoe scored their first of eight tries following a Lions attack that saw some great touches by Stokkies Hanekom and Jantjies.
After the try, Cheetahs player Phillip van der Walt was binned for obstruction, which turned out to be the first of three yellow cards.
Their lead was short-lived as Goosen drew the scores level once again in the 27th minute with a penalty conversion.
Eight minutes from the half-time recess, Lions scrumhalf Ross Cronje broke from a ruck five metres out where he side-stepped Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss to score.
A minute later the home side added their third try with Mapoe scoring after he collected a ball that was kicked and deflected off a Cheetahs player.
Just before the whistle for the break, Jantjies copped a yellow card for cynical play, which saw his side concede seven points in his absence.
The Cheetahs started the second half on a good note as winger Cornal Hendricks shook a few tackles to find the tryline, where he had to stretch to score to bring his side within seven points of the Lions.
The Lions, however, denied the visitors the fight-back as they stepped up a gear to score five more tries in the second half.
In the 52nd minute, Cheetahs prop Coenie Oosthuizen was the third player to be binned. As he left the field, the Lions scored from a lineout drive with hooker Robbie Coetzee dotting down.
Two minutes later Lions captain Warren Whiteley also got onto the scoresheet as he finished a counterattack, which saw Anthony Volmink pounce on a fumbled Le Roux ball.
At this stage it was raining tries, with fullback Andries Coetzee getting in on the action as he scored a long-range intercept try in the 61st minute.
Hendricks ensured a brief reprieve for his side 12 minutes from time as he kicked a fluffed Lions ball through, which he gave a second nudge with the boot before dotting down.
Four minutes later Mapoe raised his hand to his head as part of his celebration ritual for the third time.
The final say went to replacement prop Corne Fourie, who sold a dummy before scoring his side's eighth try of the night.
Lions: 60 - Tries: Lionel Mapoe (3), Ross Cronje, Robbie Coetzee, Warren Whiteley, Andries Coetzee, Corne Fourie; Conversions: Elton Jantjies (7); Penalties: Jantjies (2)
Cheetahs: 25 - Tries: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks (2); Conversions: Johan Goosen (2); Penalties: Goosen (2)
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Stokkies Hanekom, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronjé, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Warwick Tecklenburg, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Franco Mostert, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Corné Fourie, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. Willie Britz, 20. Derick Minnie, 21. Faf de Klerk, 22. Marnitz Boshoff, 23. Courtnall Skosan
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Caylib Oosthuizen, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller