Sloppy Lions survive Dragons scare for home play-off
CHALLENGE CUP REPORT: The Lions booked a home tie in the Round of 16 with a hard-fought 30-25 win over the Dragons on Sunday.
Quan Horn and Edwill van der Merwe crossed for the visitors, while the talented Jordan Hendrikse kicked a mammoth 20 points for the win.
*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!
For Dragons, Will Reed crossed in the first half with Aki Seiuli, Jordan Williams and Rio Dyer all going over in the second 40.
The result means the Lions have secured third place in Pool B and earned home advantage in the Round of 16.
The Lions will now host Racing 92, who drop down from the Champions Cup to the Challenge Cup.
It is certainly a very significant win, given the Lions had lost their last four matches.
However, the team started like a house on fire, taking a 27-5 at the break.
Lions led early on as Hendrikse kicked a penalty, but that was cancelled out when Reed stretched to reach the line and dot down for Dragons’ opening try.
However, with the conversion missed by Reed, Lions were soon back in the lead when Hendrikse kicked another penalty.
That lead was extended when Horn finished well in the corner following a flowing move, with Hendrikse converting before another five points were added when van der Merwe streaked clear to dot down.
Hendrikse then kicked a further three penalties to give Lions a healthy 27-5 lead at the break before adding another shortly after the restart.
But it would be Dragons who controlled the second period from that point on, the Welsh region scoring their second try through replacement Seiuli after a driving maul.
Reed missed the extras but was able to convert the hosts’ third score as Williams darted through a gap to put Dragons within 13 points with 20 minutes to go.
Momentum further went the way of Dragons when Emile van Heerden was awarded a yellow card on 64 minutes. The hosts immediately availed of the man advantage, with Dyer reaching to score in the corner and set up a grandstand finish.
JJ Hanrahan couldn’t convert Dyer’s effort but his penalty on 77 minutes brought Dragons within five points of the South African side and ultimately secured a second losing bonus point.
Man of the match: Willem Alberts was solid in the pack, while captain Marius Louw also produced a noteworthy performance. However, our nod goes to Jordan Hendrikse, who’s accurate kicking proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Tries: Reed, Seiuli, Williams, Dyer
Tries: Horn, Van der Merwe
Pens: Hendrikse 6
Yellow card: Emile van Heerden (Lions, 64 – repeat infringements)
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Max Clark, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Will Reed, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 George Nott, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Brodie Coghlan, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Jack Dixon.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Quan Horn, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 André Warner, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Emile van Heerden, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Darrien Landsberg, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 JC Pretorius, 22 Morné van den Berg, 23 Rynhardt Jonker.
Referee: Adrien Marbot (France)
Assistant Referees: Thomas Chereque (France), Stephane Boyer (France)
TMO: Christophe Berdos (France)