Fourteen-man Lions edge Griquas
The Golden Lions put their Currie Cup campaign firmly back on track with a hard-earned 38-32 win over Griquas in Kimberley.
The six tries to four win was a tense affair right to the bitter end, with Griquas desperately searching for a late winner and the Lions' defence – which had been patchy at best for most of the match – suddenly stepping up and securing the win.
To make the win even more remarkable is that the visitors played the last eight minutes with only 14 men – after wing Anthony Volmink was yellow-carded for a spear tackle.
In the tense closing stages Griquas camped on the Lions' tryline – with the referee awarding a succession of penalties – but the resolute defence from the visitors secured the victory.
Griquas led the Golden Lions 19-17 at half-time.
The Lions, as you have come to expect, played an expansive game from the outset.
Griquas struck first. The hosts scored their first try in the fourth minute, when centre Howard Mnisi broke through their defence and his fellow centre Jean Stemmet dotted down. Flyhalf Francois Brummer missed with the conversion.
Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee scored his side's first five-pointer, after flyhalf Elton Jantjies found a gap in Griquas defence. Fullback Marnitz Boshoff converted to put his side in the lead.
From there the Johannesburg-based side kept on building momentum and scored their second try through an Anthony Volmink touch-down. Boshoff missed the conversion.
Griquas replied when fullback PJ Vermeulen rounded off under the posts after a good break by his hooker and captain Ryno Barnes. Brummer converted to level the scores at 12 points all with just over 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
The visitors scored their third try with wing Andries Coetzee using space on the outside and cross the whitewash for an unconverted try.
But it was Griquas who had the last say in the first half when No.8 Carel Greeff burst over from a scrum five metres from the Lions goalline to help give his side the lead (19-17) at the break.
Brummer kicked a penalty in the early stages of the second half to give Griquas a five point lead, but the Lions soon drew level after a try in the corner by lock Franco van der Merwe. Jantjies, who had taken over the goal-kicking from a misfiring Marnitz Boshoff, converted to give the lead back to the visitors.
Griquas were far from done and centre Howard Mnisi scored the bonus point for his side after Jantjies knocked the ball on 20 metres from his own goal line. Brummer converted to give Griquas the lead, but the Lions hit back shortly after.
Boshoff might have had problems with his goal kicking, but he made no mistake scoring his try. Jantjies converted to leave the Lions one point adrift.
Jantjies was soon called on again to convert flank Jaco Kriel's try, the sixth for the visitors.
With nine minutes left, Volmink was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Brummer.
It left the visitors one man short, but despite all their efforts the hosts could not reduce the deficit.
Man of the match: Jean Stemmet showed good pace, while Howard Mnisi was again threat on attack. Carel Greeff was powerful, Marnus Schoeman made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown and Ryno Barnes was a workhorse for his team. Marnitz Boshoff was a rock at fullback, even though his goal-kicking let him down. Franco van der Merwe added plenty of value in the set pieces and on defence, while Ruan Dreyer got his team plenty of momentum with ball in hand. However, our award goes to the Lions' three loose forwards – Willie Britz, Derick Minnie and Jaco Kriel – as their collective effort often got the visitors out of trouble.
Tries: Stemmet, Vermeulen, Greeff, Mnisi
Cons: Brummer 3
Pens: Brummer 2
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: R Coetzee, Volmink, A Coetzee, Van der Merwe, Boshoff, Kriel
Cons: Boshoff, Jantjies 3
Yellow card: Anthony Volmink (Lions, 72 -foul play, spear tackle)
Griquas: 15 PJ Vermeulen, 14 Richard Lawson, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Victor Kruger, 4 Patrick O'Brien, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Dalton Davis, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 JP Nel.
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Andries Coetzee, 13 Robert De Bruyn, 12 Dylan Des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Ruan Venter, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 JJ Breedt, 19 Warwick Tecklenberg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruhan Nel.
Referee: Jason Jaftha
Assistant Referees: Lusanda Jam and Nico Smal
TMO: Johan Greeff