United Rugby Championship

Lions score stunning comeback win over shell-shocked Munster

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Wandisile Simelane of the Lions duels with Jack Crowley of Munster.(Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
Wandisile Simelane of the Lions duels with Jack Crowley of Munster.(Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
  • The Lions stunned Munster 23-21 in their URC clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.
  • The Irish giants led 21-10 at half-time but ran out of gas in the second period.
  • Flank Vincent Tshituka was superb for the Lions, while a new front row gave them scrum dominance in the second stanza.

The Lions claimed a stunning come-from-behind United Rugby Championship (URC) win over Irish giants Munster at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Lions won 23-21, after trailing 21-10 at half-time thanks to a thrilling second-half display where they kept the visitors scoreless.

AS IT HAPPENED | Lions v Munster

Munster, who were heavy favourites beforehand, outscored the Lions by three tries to two, but the boot of Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse proved vital in their fightback.

Hendrikse was one of the Lions' stars, while flank Vincent Tshituka also produced an industrious performance which earned him the player-of-the-match accolade.

The hosts, crucially, also started dominating at scrum time in the second half when they brought on an entire new front row in the form of PJ Botha, JP Smith and Ruan Dreyer.

The visitors had started like a house on fire, launching attack after attack deep into Lions territory.

They were rewarded for their dominance as early as the seventh minute when tight-head prop John Ryan barged over next to the posts after a concerted period of attack.

Munster continued to boss proceedings, and in the 14th minute loose-head prop Josh Wycherley went over in similar fashion to his front-row partner (14-0).

But the Lions slowly clawed their way back into the contest and got on the scoreboard in the 32nd minute when winger Edwill van der Merwe showed great strength to barge over in the corner, in the process bouncing off a hapless Munster defender.

A couple of minutes later, Munster were pinged for obstruction in their own 22 metre area which allowed Hendrikse to easily narrow the gap to 10-14.

Suddenly, it was game on.

Munster, though, had other plans and finished the half strong when lock Fineen Wycherley, brother of prop Josh, finished off another great team try.

That saw Munster take a 21-10 lead into the half-time break.

Munster thought they secured their bonus-point try in the 50th minute when No 8 Alex Kendellen barged over under the posts.

However, subsequent replays showed a forward pass in the build-up by scrumhalf Neil Cronin to hooker Niall Scannell.

Both teams had surges into the opposition territory but terrific defence kept the scorers untroubled until the 66th minute when Hendrikse kicked an easy penalty after the Lions had dominated the Munster scrum.

The Lions scrum appeared much stronger in the second half with the introduction of Botha, Smith and Dreyer.

It gave them some much-needed go-forward and they appeared the more energetic team heading into the closing stages.

The Lions were right back in it when centre Wandisile Simelane pounced on a loose ball to dart over in the corner.

Hendrikse's conversion made it a one-point game with 12 minutes remaining (21-20).

With 10 minutes remaining, another scrum penalty allowed the Lions to set up a lineout deep in Munster territory.

Munster were pinged for off-side a few minutes later, and Hendrikse stepped up to put his side into the lead for the first time in the 74th minute.

In the 76th minute, a strong run from Springbok centre Damian de Allende gave Munster a great attacking chance.

But the Lions defence refused to buckle, and when flank Vincent Tshituka won a penalty on the ground, the stuffing appeared knocked out of Munster.

Munster, though, got one final chance with an attacking lineout near the Lions 22m area.

But a skew lineout throw put paid to those hopes as the Lions closed the game out for a famous upset victory.


Lions 23 (10)

Tries: Edwill van der Merwe, Wandisile Simelane

Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (2)

Penalties: Hendrikse (3)

Munster 21 (21)

Tries: John Ryan, Josh Wycherley, Fineen Wycherley

Conversions: Jack Crowley (3)

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