Currie Cup

Lions fight back to break WP hearts at the death

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Lions v Western Province. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Lions v Western Province. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

The Lions overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat Western Province 22-19 in their Currie Cup encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday night.

The men from Johannesburg had trailed 19-9 with less than 30 minutes left to play, but launched a stunning fightback to deny their visitors from the Cape at the death.

AS IT HAPPENED | Lions 22-19 WP

Lions fullback Tian Swanepoel was his side's hero, kicking a penalty on the stroke of full-time to snatch victory.

Swanepoel proved valuable with his prodigious boot, also kicking a couple of long-range penalties to keep his side in the running in the early exchanges.

Strong start by WP

Western Province took the lead in the seventh minute via a penalty from flyhalf Tim Swiel.

Lions pivot Elton Jantjies had the chance to level matters but missed a relatively straightforward penalty attempt in the 11th minute.

Swiel then missed a chance to extend WP's lead when he missed a long-range kick from 55m out.

The visitors were utterly dominant at scrum time but were somewhat bizarrely punished in this department in the 18th minute. Swanepoel then stepped up to slot a monster penalty from 61m out to put his team on the board (3-3).

Soon afterwards, in the 23rd minute, WP regained the lead when Swiel was accurate off the tee - it came after another dominant scrum yielded a penalty.

But the Lions were back on level pegging just before the half-hour mark when Swanepoel stepped up to slot another long-range effort, this time from about 45m out (6-6).

The hosts nearly scored the game's first try in the 34th minute after a surge on the WP tryline, but the visiting side's No 8 Juarno Augustus saved the day when he won a vital penalty on the ground.

The Lions were pinged at ruck time in the 38th minute, with Swiel stepping up to slot an easy penalty and hand WP a 9-6 lead heading into the half-time break.

Early in the second stanza, the Lions were again pinged on the ground. Swiel converted from about 35m out to hand his side a 12-6 lead after 42 minutes.

In the 46th minute, Swanepoel, who by now had taken over the goal-kicking from Jantjies, had another go at a long-range penalty. It was 57m out, and while his effort had the legs, it was pulled slightly to the left.

But soon afterwards the hosts had another penalty attempt when the visitors were caught off-side. This time around Swanepoel was successful from close range to bring his side to within three points (9-12) on the 50-minute mark.

Two minutes later, WP scored the game's first try when winger Seabelo Senatla dotted down next to the uprights. Senatla had started the move with a break from inside his own half. He offloaded to centre Ruhan Nel, who darted down the touchline before offloading back to the speedster who cantered in.

Swiel slotted the conversion to hand WP a 19-9 lead after 53 minutes.

Lions claw their way back

But from this period onwards, the home side took control as the men from the Cape seemingly ran out of puff in the thin Highveld air.

The Lions kept probing and got back in striking range when Swanepoel converted another long-range attempt in the 68th minute (12-19).

The hosts had a new lease on life heading into the final 10 minutes and drew level when winger Stean Pienaar caught WP napping with a sniping break after taking a quick tap inside the red zone.

The easy conversion attempt saw the sides draw level with nine minutes remaining.

At this stage there was only one team on the park as the Lions launched attack after attack. And their resilience were rewarded with a minute left to play when WP were caught off-side in front of the uprights.

Swanepoel duly stepped up to kick the penalty and hand his side a last-gasp win.

Scorers:

Lions 22 (6)

Try: Stean Pienaar

Conversion: Elton Jantjies

Penalties: Tiaan Swanepoel (5)

Western Province 19 (9)

Try: Seabelo Senatla

Conversion: Tim Swiel

Penalties: Swiel (4)

Teams:

Lions

15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole

Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 21 Roelof Smit, 22 Morne van den Berg, 23 Dan Kriel

Western Province

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Johan du Toit, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Tristan Leyds

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