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Lions do SA teams a huge URC favour

MATCH REPORT: The Lions stunned the world and did other South African teams a huge favour with a huge 44-12 upset win over the table-topping Leinster side in their United Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park, in Johannesburg, on Saturday.

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The six tries to two demolition in an exciting display saw the Lions move from 11th back into the top eight on the standings – keeping their play-off and Champions Cup dreams alive.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

(Continue below …)

The Lions got off to the perfect start – winning the restart, going right and back left, where the Leinster defence was exposed and scrumhalf Morné van den Berg cruising over for the opening try inside a minute. Flyhalf Sanele Nohamba added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Five minutes later a scrum penalty allowed Nohamba to make it a 10-point lead.

On the 10-minute mark, the Lions broke out from inside their half and sublime handling putting captain Marius Louw over for the second try. Nohamba was wide of the mark with the conversion – 15-0.

Minutes later Nohamba picked up a stray pass and offloaded to fullback Quan Horn, who sprinted 50 metres for the third try. Nohamba made it 22-0 with the conversion with 15 minutes up on the clock.

Back-to-back penalties against Leinster allowed the Lions to set up a line-out deep inside the visitors’ half. But the home team lost the line-out – an issue they struggled with from the start.

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Leinster struggled to get out of their half, and the Lions’ high-tempo game caused the visitors all kinds of problems.

Back-to-back penalties eventually gifted them a line-out inside the Lions’ 22. However, the home team’s defence won that battle – the ball being held up over the line.

Leinster enjoyed a period of consistent possession and territory inside the Lions 22, but the home team’s defence held strong – Leinster even losing the ball over the line.

It allowed the Lions to hold on to their 22-point lead till the half-time break.

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Leinster looked to have started their comeback with an early second-half try, but the TMO found a forward pass in the lead-up.

The Lions’ line-out problems continued, robbing them of another attacking opportunity.

Eight minutes after the break Nohamba took aim at the posts from nearly 50 metres out – following an offside penalty – requiring the TMO to have a look. He confirmed the kick was good – 25-0.

Leinster eventually got on the board in the 52nd minute – a grubber behind the rushing Lions defence collected by fullback Ciarán Frawley for their first try. Harry Byrne added the conversion – 7-25.

However, the Lions hit straight back – Erich Cronje winning a turnover, Richard Kriel collecting the kick ahead and offloading to Emmanuel Tshituka for the bonus-point try. The conversion attempt by Nohamba was wide – 30-7.

Ciarán Frawley got Leinster’s second try in the 63rd minute – the visitors’ famed phase play exposing the Lions’ tiring defence. Byrne was wide with the conversion attempt – 12-30.

It was now Leinster’s attack against the Lions’ defence and for the next 10 minutes defence won those battles.

And with less than five minutes left on the clock, a turnover saw the Lions swing it wide, where a flying Tshituka went over for his second try. Replacement Jordan Hendrikse added the conversion – 37-12.

There was enough time for No.8 Francke Horn to celebrate his 50th cap with a try that put the seal on a comprehensive upset – with the 44-12 margin as much a surprise as the win.

The scorers

For the Lions
Tries: Van den Berg, Louw, Horn, Tshituka 2, Horn
Cons: Nohamba 2, Hendrikse 2
Pens: Nohamba 2

For Leinster
Tries: Frawley, Frawley
Con: Byrne

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 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Ruan Delport, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Morgan Naudé.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 JP Smith, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Nico Steyn, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Henco van Wyk.

Leinster: 15 Ciarán Frawley, 14 Rob Russell, 13 Liam Turner, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Andrew Osborne, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny (captain), 6 Diarmuid Mangan, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Brian Deeny, 3 Thomas Clarkson, 2 Lee Barron, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 John McKee, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Cormac Foley, 22 San Prendergast, 23 Ben Brownlee.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Morné Ferreira (South Africa) and Christopher Allison (South Africa)
TMO: Andrea Piardi (Italy)

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