Smiling Nohamba admits silly ball-slap was 'bad ploy', but atones with fine Lions showing

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Sanele Nohamba  (Gallo)
Sanele Nohamba (Gallo)
  • Sanele Nohamba admits petulantly slapping the ball out of a ball boy's hand in the win over the Ospreys - which led to a try - was a "bad ploy" and he deserves stick for it.
  • However, the Lions scrumhalf did atone for that with a Man of the Match performance as he continues a promising start to the season at his new franchise.
  • He also believes his halfback partnership with Gianni Lombard could grow into a profitable one.

A smiling Sanele Nohamba knows very well that he can count his lucky stars that the Lions managed to pull off a surprise URC victory over the Ospreys in Swansea this past weekend... and that he claimed the Man of the Match award to boot.

Because had those two things not transpired, it's eminently possible that one moment of brazen cheekiness could've seen his team go into this week's round of fixtures winless.

In the 52nd minute of a gutsy 28-27 victory, the hosts had a lineout close to halfway when the ball boy was in the process of handing the ball to hooker Dewi Lake, only for Nohamba to swoop in and knock the ball out of his hands.

Unsurprisingly, a needless penalty was awarded to the Ospreys, who kicked to touch and scored their fourth try from the resulting maul.

READ | Gutsy Lions finally find their roar on defence, but now need to do it consistently

"I was just trying to slow down the game," Nohamba said on Tuesday with a sheepish smile.

"It was a bad ploy from me. I'm probably going to get some stick from the coaches in our review session and rightly so. But yeah, actually there was nothing to it."

Sitting next to him was Jaque Fourie, who clearly still wasn't impressed before eventually allowing himself some form of a smile.

"Yeah, it's a tough one because it's a penalty kick into the corner and then five points come from it," said the Lions' defence coach.

"Like Sanele said, we've got a review later and we're probably going to smack him over the fingers for that."

Laughs aside, the 23-year-old Nohamba has made an impressive start to the new season after notably leaving the Sharks - who boast four class scrumhalves in Jaden Hendrikse, Grant Williams, Cameron Wright and forgotten Cheetah Zee Mkhabela - in search of more game time.

"I'm really enjoying my time at the Lions," he said.

"I just felt like I needed the change, a new start. I'm still learning and still trying to grow, but I'm enjoying my time here. I was really happy with my performance.

"I haven't played a lot of rugby over the last six months or so, so I was glad just to get some game time and just enjoy the night with the boys.

"We trained so hard during the week, it was nice just to reap the rewards on the night."

Apart from some snappy service, Nohamba had atoned for his blunder by scoring an opportunistic try when his direct opponent, Rhys Webb, spilled possession from the scrum.

"The credit goes to the scrummagers," he said.

"The forwards are the ones who put the pressure on and I was just lucky to get on the ball for the try. The credit must go to the pack and not me."

Encouragingly, Nohamba's halfback partnership with Gianni Lombard, who's returned to Johannesburg after a season in Japan, looks eminently like an effective one.

"Everyone in the squad is putting their hand up for selection and the coaches back whoever they have to back and try new combinations," he said. "I think it worked well with me and Gianni on Saturday. It was our first game playing together and we just backed each other up and trusted each other's calls. Everything took off from there."

The Lions take on Cardiff on Friday night.

Kick-off is at 20:35 (SA time). 

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