Currie Cup

Lions close in on Currie Cup SF spot as Swanepoel sparks win over Pumas

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Pumas v Lions in Nelspruit (Gallo)
Pumas v Lions in Nelspruit (Gallo)

The Lions made it five wins from five in the Currie Cup as they defeated a gutsy Pumas outfit 33-25 in Nelspruit.

The victory moves the Johannesburg outfit into second place on the overall table with one game in the regular season to go and within reach of a semi-final spot.

AS IT HAPPENED: Pumas 25-33 Lions

In-form fullback Tiaan Swanepoel scored two tries and kicked four penalties for a 22-point haul, while Jaco Visagie scored a try and Elton Jantjies added three conversions.

The match got off to a frantic start with the Pumas drawing first blood with a well-worked try before the Lions returned the favour with a five-pointer of their own - all within the first five minutes.

It was simple phase play from a scrum that set up the Pumas try, with flanker Phumzile Maqondwana getting over the gain line before popping a pass out to No 8 Willie Engelbrecht for the score.

But the Pumas would give away a penalty within moments of the restart, allowing the Lions to kick for territory and set up the rolling maul, which rumbled forward with ease before hooker Jaco Visagie crashed over for the try.

The Lions took the lead midway through the first half courtesy of a couple of long-range penalties from fullback Tiaan Swanepoel, the first from 40 metres out and the second from nearly 50, but Ginter Smuts reduced the deficit shortly after when a Lions player was penalised for holding on.

The Lions went through a dominant period of possession but couldn't crack the Pumas defence and instead it was the home side who finished the first half on the attack.

An attacking lineout right on the Lions tryline saw them set up the rolling maul, and after nearly getting carried over the touchline, the pack was able to readjust to allow hooker Simon Westraadt to go over for the try. Smuts added the extras from out wide as it finished 17-13 to the Pumas at the break.

The Lions had a chance to go for three easy points at the start of the second half but opted to set up an attacking lineout instead. It was a decision that paid dividends shortly after when their rolling maul carried the ball up to the line before it was moved out wide where Jantjies helped create the space for Swanepoel to go over.

The visitors continued to look dominant in the second half and were soon rewarded with another five-pointer, this time from a brillant counter-attack that saw Courtnall Skosan make metres up the field before offloading it to Andre Warner, who found Swanepoel for the score. Jantjies converted as the Lions took a 27-17 lead.

Smuts was able to reduce the deficit to just seven points shortly before the hour mark, but once again the Lions were able to count on Swanepoel's incredible accuracy from range as he nailed a penalty kick from just inside the Pumas' half to restore their 10-point lead.

The Pumas refused to lie down, however, and set up a grandstand finish when Etienne Taljaard stabbed a clever grubber kick through the Lions defence for Erich Cronje to collect and score.

The home side had their chances to snatch a victory in the final 10 minutes but ultimately the Lions were able to hold for the win as a late penalty kick from Swanepoel took the game beyond the Pumas.


Pumas 25 (17)

Tries: Willie Engelbrecht, Ginter Smuts, Erich Cronje

Conversions: Devon Williams, Smuts

Penalties: Smuts (2)

Lions 33 (14)

Tries: Jaco Visagie, Tiaan Swanepoel (2)

Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3)

Penalties: Swanepoel (4)

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