Brave, enterprising 14-man Lions down Racing 92 to keep Challenge Cup dream alive

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Ruan Venter (Gallo)
Ruan Venter (Gallo)

The Lions played with 14 men for 62 minutes against Racing 92 in Johannesburg on Saturday and produced some excellent rugby to run out 51-28 winners and keep their Challenge Cup dream alive.  

FT | Lions v Racing 92 - Challenge Cup

It all looked promising from the start when after a period in which both sides eased into the match, the Lions opened the scoring as skipper Marius Louw read a long Racing 92 pass to gather up an intercept and race away to score under the poles.

Scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba added the extras, and the home side were off to the perfect start with a 7-0 lead in the 6th minute.

That lead doubled to 12-0 just two minutes later as speedster Edwill van der Merwe was sent on his way down the left after a brilliant turnover while Racing 92 were on the attack. 

Racing 92's attacking endeavour, however, soon paid off as prop Thomas Moukoro barged over in the left-hand corner from a ruck near the Lions line in the 12th minute.

Nolann Le Garrec converted from the touchline to cut the Lions' lead to 12-7. 

The Lions extended their lead to 15-7 in the 17th minute thanks to a Nohamba penalty but were stunned a minute after when Emmanuel Tshituka received a straight red card for leading with his arm into the tackle. 

According to the letter of the law, it was the right decision, but there was no malicious intent from the big flanker. 

Despite the setback, the Lions extended their lead a few minutes later after a brilliant break by flyhalf Gianni Lombard allowed him to find flyer Sibahle Maxwane in space, and he left the Racing defence with no chance as he cruised over the try line.

While Nohamba couldn't convert with a difficult kick from the touchline, the Lions now led 20-7 in the 25th minute. 

Racing hit back soon after as Moukoro rumbled over for his second of the match as the visitors made their extra man count.

With Le Garrec converting, the Lion lead had been cut to just six at 20-14.

The home side, however, continued their attacking mindset, despite being a man down and had a few opportunities to extend their lead.

That they did after the half-time hooter following a barnstorming run from flanker Ruan Venter in midfield as he bulldozed his way over several defenders on his way to a converted try as the home side went into the beak 27-14 up. 

Racing 92 cut the lead to 6 points in the 49th minute as Ben Volavola dummied his way over after a sustained period of attack on the Lions' line. 

But the home side simply wouldn't lie down, and they struck back soon after as Louw hit the line at pace to force his way over for his second try.

The Lions' lead was back to 13 points as Nohamba added the extras. 

The match continued its frantic pace, and it was Racing 92 who were next to score as right-wing Donovan Taofifénua stepped inside three defenders.

Replacement Max Spring had no problem slotting the conversion as the score read 41-28 in the 60th minute.

If the visitors thought that they could whittle down the lead further and put pressure on a tiring Lions defence who had manfully stood up despite being a man down, they were wrong.

It was the home side who continued their eye-catching play, and after veteran lock, Willem Alberts had broken through the Racing defence, he found Nohamba and the nippy No 9 crashed over under the poles.

Nohamba converted his own try as the Lions led 48-28 with 12 minutes left. 

As the full-time whistle neared, it was the Lions who were once again on the attack as they proved full value for what is one of their most incredible wins this season. 

They even passed the 50 mark as a late penalty by replacement Andries Coetzee ended the epic encounter. 


Lions: 51 (27)

Tries: Marius Louw (2), Edwill van der Merwe,  Sibahle Maxwane, Ruan Venter, Gianni Lombard, Sanele Nohamba

Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (5)

Penalties: Sanele Nohamba, Andries Coetzee 

Racing 92: 28 (14)

Tries: Thomas Moukoro (2), Ben Volavola,  Donovan Taofifénua

Conversions: Nolann Le Garrec (3), Max Spring   



15 Quan Horn, 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Emmanuel Tshituka, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Jean-Pierre Smith.

Substitutes: 16 Morné Brandon, 17 Rhynardt Rijnsburger, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Ruben Schoeman , 20 Travis Gordon, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Rynhardt Jonker, 23 Andries Coetzee.

Racing 92

15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Donovan Taofifénua, 13 Warrick Gelant, 12 Olivier Klemenczak, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Cameron Woki, 7 Maxime Baudonne, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Anthime Hemery, 3 Ali Oz, 2 Peniami Narisia, 1 Thomas Moukoro

Substitutes: 16 Jonathan Maiau, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Fabien Sanconnie, 20 Ibrahim Diallo, 21 Martin Meliande, 22 Max Spring, 23 Asaeli Tuivuaka 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()