Lions crowned U20 champs after thrilling final
MATCH REPORT: The Lions are the Provincial Under-20 champions after a hard-fought 36-35 win over the Western Province in Johannesburg on Saturday.
It was the only defeat of the season for Western Province U20, who outscored the home side by four tries to three, but went down by just one point in the end.
The teams traded early penalties as they felt each other out and the home side managed to build up a 9-3 advantage.
Western Province U20 started to find some gaps out wide and reduced the deficit to just three points at 12-9 heading into the final stages of the first half.
A try after the hooter saw Lions U20 take a 19-9 advantage into the break, leaving WP U20 just outside striking distance.
That lead was cut to just three points early in the second half as Western Province U20 came up with a try of their own from flank Romauld Ntumba to make it 19-16 heading into the final half-hour.
They backed that up with a second try soon afterwards as hooker Keagan Blanckenberg scored from a maul to give them a 21-19 lead.
Blanckenburg had his second thanks to some incredible hands from halfbacks Bobby Alexander and Sacha Mngomezulu, which unlocked the Lions U20 defence, taking the lead out to 28-19.
The home side brought themselves back within range with a penalty and they followed that up with a double-strike as flank Ruan Venter and wing Boldwin Hansen both scored to put them 36-28 up.
To their credit, Western Province U20 kept on fighting and came up with a final try from replacement hooker Lukhanyo Vokozela, but it was not enough to avoid defeat.
For Lions U20:
Tries: Cairns, Venter, Hansen
Cons: Claasen 3
Pens: Claasens 5
For WP U20:
Tries: Ntumba, Blanckenberg 2, Vokozela
Cons: Mngomezulu 3
Pens: Mngomezulu 3