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Fourteen-man Lions power past Dragons

MATCH REPORT: On Saturday, the Lions overcame a questionable red card to record a bonus-point 49-24 win over a deficient Dragons team in their United Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park, in Johannesburg.

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The game had a peculiar feel to it in the first half – with the Dragons scoring after going down to 14 men (Rhodri Williams yellow-carded for a cynical foul in the fourth minute) and the Lions scoring after lock Ruben Schoeman was red-carded under curious circumstances in the 25th minute.

* To recap[ all the drama, CLICK HERE!

It was the visitors who scored against the run of play in the fifth minute – after defending the Lions maul and then charging down an attempted cross-field kick by Sanele Nohamba. They manage to race upfield from deep inside their 22 and flank Harri Keddie finishing the move. Flyhalf Will Reed kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

The home team bounced back and while it was also against the run of play, their first try – by centre Henco van Wyk – came after another charged-down kick and the counterattack taking them 80 metres downfield.

Flyhalf Sanele Nohamba was wide of the mark with the conversion, but slotted a penalty 10 minutes later as the Lions took the lead (8-7) just past the quarter mark.

Following the red card for Schoeman, Quan Horn scored another long-range try, converted by Nohamba – while Nohamba and Williams added penalties to make it 18-10 at the half-time break for the home team.

The visitors were reduced to 14 men for a second time, hooker Bradley Roberts yellow-carded for an ugly-looking trip of an opponent.

A minute later Edwill van der Merwe scored the Lions’ third try, with Nohamba’s conversion making it a 25-10 lead.

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The Dragons got themselves back into the game with a try by Ashton Hewitt – converted by Will Reed – before Nohamba stretched the lead to 28-17 with his third penalty.

The bonus-point try for the Lions came when No.9 Morné van den Berg went over just short of the hour mark.

Quan Horn started a counter, with Richard Kriel racing down the right wing and feeding inside to the scrumhalf to finish off a sublime move. Nohamba’s conversion made it 35-17.

The Dragons again got themselves back into the game with a maul try by hooker Bradley Roberts, the Reed conversion narrowing the gap to 11 points – 24-35.

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Again the Lions’ response was swift. Rabz Maxwane beat a few defenders before offloading to No.8 Francke Horn to finish off another sublime counter. Nohamba ended the match as a contest when he slotted the 42-24 conversion with less than 10 minutes remaining.

There was enough time for Van der Merwe to go over for his second try, Nohamba’s conversion making the final score 49-24.

The scorers

For the Lions
Tries: Van Wyk, Horn, Van der Merwe 2, Van den Berg, Horn
Cons: Nohamba 5
Pens: Nohamba 3

For the Dragons
Tries: Keddie, Hewitt, Roberts
Cons: Reed 3
Pen: Reed

Yellow cards: Rhodri Williams (Dragons, 4 – cynical foul, deliberate knock-on), Bradley Roberts (Dragons, 43 – foul play, tripping an opponent)
Red card: Ruben Schoeman (Lions, 25 – foul play; colliding with opponent’s head after attempted charge down)

Teams:

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

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Will Reed, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Harri Keddie, 6 Sean Lonsdale, 5 George Nott, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 James Benjamin, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Luke Yendle, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Ryan Woodman, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Aneurin Owen, 23 Ewan Rosser.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa), Hanru van Rooyen (South Africa)
TMO: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)

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