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Lions destroy Zebre at Ellis Park

MATCH REPORT: The Lions recorded their second win of the 2023/2024 United Rugby Championship season when they thumped Zebre 61-19 in their Round Six encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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The home side outscored their opponents by nine tries to three in the match with Edwill van der Merwe and Henco van Wyk both getting a brace.

The Lions were on the board in the fifth minute when Richard Kriel was put into space from a great set-play to sprint away for the first try of the game. Sanele Nohamba’s conversion was perfect to give his team a seven-point lead.

Ivan van Rooyen’s side was in again in the 10th minute after a great break by Francke Horne in the midfield. The big No.8 kicked the ball ahead and Van der Merwe controlled the ball with his boot before diving onto it for the second try after the game. Nohamba was unsuccessful with the conversion.

After he helped create the previous try, Horn scored his team’s third after he kicked the ball downfield after a loose Zebre pass before guiding it over the tryline with his boot and scoring. Nohamba added the extra two points.

The Lions were cutting Zebre to shreds with some neat offloads and strong carries and after several phases, Quan Horn added his name to the scoreboard with a great try. It was 26-0 after Nohamba’s conversion.

Zebre finally got onto the scoreboard in the 34th minute when the ball was spread wide to Simone Gesi in the Lions’ 22 and the wing weaved his way over for a try. Giovanni Montemauri made it a 19-point ball game with his conversion.

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However, the Lions inflicted more pain on Zebre moments later with centre Van Wyk chasing down a Quan Horn grubber to score his team’s fifth try. Nohamba increased his tally to eight points from the kicking tee.

The Lions were nearly in again just before the break when Asenathi Ntlabakanye crashed over the tryline, but the TMO could not spot the ball on the ground.

Zebre were the first strike in the second half when the ball bounced perfectly for Gesi after a grubber with the wing going over for his second try. Montemauri turned it into a seven-pointer with his conversion.

Just when you thought Zebre’s defence improved, Van Wyk went in between two tacklers before evading a sweeper to score his second try of the match.

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Jacopo Trulla was the next to add his name to the scoreboard after he was put into space to race away for Zebre’s third try of the match.

The see-saw nature of the second half continued and after some great interplay between the backs, Morne van den Berg dived over for a try. Nohamba nailed the easy conversion.

Another great move from a set-piece saw Van der Merwe score his second try in the 72nd minute before Emmanuel Tshituka had the final say of the game when he crashed over for his team’s ninth try just before full-time.

It was Willem Alberts who surprisingly stepped up to take the final conversion and it was over.

Man of the match: Edwill van der Merwe and Henco van Wyk both scored two tries in the match and they were just deadly with ball in hand. Morne van den Berg was a livewire and he also scored one of his team’s tries. However, the award goes to No.8 Francke Horn, who was a colossus with ball in hand. he also created a try and scored one himself.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries: Kriel, Van der Merwe 2, F Horn, Q Horn, Van Wyk 2, Van den Berg, Tshituka
Cons: Nohamba 7, Alberts

For Zebre:
Tries: Gesi 2, Trulla
Cons: Montemauri 2

Teams:

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Emmanuel Tshituka, 5 Ruben Schoeman, 4 Ruan Delport, 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.

Zebre: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Scott Gregory, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Franco Smith Jr, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Giovanni Montemauri, 9 Gonzalo Garcia, 8 Giovanni Licata (captain), 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Giacomo Ferrari, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Juan Pitinari, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Guido Volpi, 20 Taina Fox-Matamua, 21 Thomas Dominguez, 22 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 23 Jacopo Trulla.

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Morné Ferreira (South Africa); AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)

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