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Late bonus point keeps Lions alive

MATCH REPORT: Replacement Emmanuel Tshituka scored two late tries – the second on the stroke of full-time – as the Lions scored a 34-13 bonus-point United Rugby Championship win over Cardiff at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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The four-tries-to-one win keeps the Johannesburg-based franchise alive in the play-off race – although they do require some favours from other teams.

Tshituka, who came on in the 53rd minute for a tiring Ruan Venter, crossed the line in the 73rd and 79th minutes.

Before his double, the Welsh team had closed the gap to just seven points (13-20), with the Lions looking disorganised and disinterested.

However, the win puts the Lions within striking distance of the top eight.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

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An early break by scrumhalf Morné van den Berg led to Ruan Venter going over with the openside partially dragged over the line by prop Ruan Dreyer.

The Lions’ opening score was well taken, but Cardiff were caught asleep for the second, losing focus as Marius Louw used a penalty to hoof a long kick downfield with Quan Horn winning the race to the line.

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Patient forward play enabled Cardiff to breach the home defence seven minutes after the interval with replacement prop Domachowski burrowing over from close range.

But with flyhalf Sanele Nohamba landing two penalties and two conversions, the Lions remained 20-10 ahead.

Cardiff began to get ascendency at the scrum and when they won a penalty in front of the posts, Tinus de Beer was able to further narrow the lead with another successful three-pointer.

Replacement back Jordan Hendrikse was making an impact for the Lions through his carrying, sucking in multiple defenders with each run.

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But Cardiff were scrambling well and had fullback Cam Winnett to thank for a monster 50-22 that swept them deep into enemy territory, although the opportunity amounted to nothing.

The Lions remained in control knowing the next try would seal the win and it duly arrived in the 73rd minute when Tshituka finished a driving maul after a build up of pressure.

Gianni Lombard nailed the conversion and it was over for Cardiff, who saw the play-off chasing Lions cross once again through Tshituka.

Man of the Match

Hendrikse and Tshituka made telling contributions off the bench but it was the work of JC Pretorius that really stood out. The openside flank was a rock in defence, putting in nine tackles, and also won four turnovers in a hard-working performance.

Play of the match

It was not flashy but the 73rd-minute try that propelled the Lions out of sight was certainly effective. After testing the visiting defence with a series of carries, the Lions turned to the line-out maul and were successful with a powerful drive that was finished by Tshituka.

The scorers

For the Lions
Tries: Venter, Horn, Tshituka 2
Cons: Nohamba 2, Lombard 2
Pens: Nohamba 2

For Cardiff
Tries: Domachowski
Cons: De Beer
Pens: De Beer 2

Teams

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Ruan Delport, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 JP Smith, 18 Conraad van Vuren, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Emmanuel Tshituka, 21 Hanru Sirgel, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Gianni Lombard.

Cardiff: 15 Cam Winnett, 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Mackenzie Martin, 7 James Botham, 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Evan Lloyd, 1 Rhys Carre.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Rhys Litterick, 19 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 20 Alun Lawrence, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Jacob Beetham, 23 Max Clark.

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa) and Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

  • Additional reporting by @URCOfficial

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