Fri, 22 Jan 2021

The Lions produced a timely burst to gain a crucial opening Currie Cup victory over an unlucky Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.

By the time the storm warnings that had been issued for central South Africa hit in the 48th minute, the men from Doornfontein were 20-17 ahead, enough to grant them the match points.

SA Rugby regulations state that there's a 30-minute grace period for lightning to subside within a safe distance, but - as was the case in the Bulls' 39-6 win over the Stormers in Super Rugby Unlocked - there wasn't sufficient time.

While Griquas could rightly argue that they still had over half an hour to regain the initiative they gained so nobly in the first 30 minutes, they were under severe pressure.

Lions flyhalf and skipper Elton Jantjies had launched a superb kick-off to the second half, allowing his side a platform to camp in the hosts' red zone.

Griquas' defence, which had been stout but consistently off-side, conceded yet another penalty and a powerful shove from the entire Lions pack was enough for referee Marius van der Westhuizen to award a penalty try.

In hindsight, that vital score was merely an extension of the Lions' surge in the final minutes of the first half.

In the 36th minute, they went to touch to allow for the launch of a sweeping backline move yet that seemed to break down as Griquas wing Daniel Kasende almost intercepted.

However, Jantjies was able to quickly regain and tap to replacement fullback Tiaan Swanepoel, who freed up wing Courtnall Skosan for a try in the left corner.

Clearly inspired after their poor start, the Lions then kept play going for almost five minutes after the hooter went as the Peacock Blues' defence continually infringed, eventually leading to Skosan's second try.

However, before they belatedly got the scoreboard ticking over, their hosts were full value for their 17-3 lead after 29 minutes.

Griquas were energetic at the breakdowns and at least three times exploited some slack Lions ball protection by ripping possession out of the arms.

An early intercept put Lions halfback Morne van der Berg under pressure, who held on too long.

From the resultant penalty, Griquas produced a powerful maul to go over the whitewash and land the first punch.

Scrumhalf and captain Zak Burger then made a decisive break that led wing Eduan Keyter to bundle over.

Yet the highlight of the home side's incisive counter-attacking play was the try for fullback James Verity-Amm.

Following a poor clearing kick from Jantjies, blindside flanker Stefan Willemse broke two tackles to create space for Keyter to run onto his pass before Burger was on hand again to make the scoring pass.

But their lack of possession and territory began to bite them as the penalty count mounted and the Lions began to find their feet.


Griquas - (17)

Tries: HJ Luus, Eduan Keyter, James Verity-Amm

Conversion: Tinus de Beer

Lions - (20)

Tries: Courtnall Skosan (2), penalty try.

Penalty: Jantjies

Source: News24

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