Lions stun Cardiff at Arms Park
MATCH REPORT: It was a very successful tour for the Lions as they secured back-to-back wins in Wales.
Last Saturday, the South African outfit had to rely on a late try to sneak a 28-27 win over the Ospreys in Swansea but on Friday it was a more convincing victory with a bonus point 31-18 win over Cardiff at Arms Park.
*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!
Pieter Botha, Morne van den Berg and Quan Horn all crossed for the visitors while there was also a penalty try. Gianni Lombard added the rest of their points with a penalty and three conversions.
James Botham and Shane Lewis-Hughes scored Cardiff’s tries with Jarrod Evans adding two penalties and a conversion in a losing cause.
Cardiff, playing with the advantage of a strong wind in the first half, took an early lead with a long-range penalty from Evans.
That was the only score of the opening quarter, which the hosts dominated, but some determined defending by the Lions kept their line intact.
Cardiff’s new recruit Lopeti Timani impressed with a couple of powerful bursts and it took a thunderous tackle from visiting flanker Sibusiso Sangweni to deny the lock his first try for the region.
The home side blew a couple of promising opportunities in the opposition 22 when Evans opted for cross-field kicks instead of passing but it was the outside-half who extended his side’s lead with a second penalty.
A penalty from Lombard gave Lions their first points before Botham drove over from close range for the first try, but this was soon nullified by the Lions.
With the last play of the half, Cardiff collapsed a driving line-out to concede a penalty try with their number eight Taulupe Faletau yellow-carded for dragging it down to leave the hosts with a narrow 13-10 interval advantage.
In Faletau’s absence, the Lions built up a huge period of pressure before capitalising when Botha finished off a driving line-out.
Faletau returned at the same time Cardiff made four substitutions in quick succession in an attempt to reverse their fortunes but it did not pay dividends as the Lions all-but sealed victory when replacement Van der Berg dived over.
Cardiff showed some spirit with a try from Lewis-Hughes but the Lions had the final say when an alert Horn beat Rhys Priestland to the touchdown for the bonus-point try.
Player of the Match
Powerful centre Louw led his side’s huge defensive effort in the first half, which saw them concede only one try despite playing into a stiff breeze. After the interval, with conditions in the Lions’ favour, his strong ball-carrying ensured the visitors dominated the half.
Play of the match
The penalty try awarded to the Lions just before the interval was the turning point of the game. The South Africans were trailing 13-3 but they then picked up a valuable seven points as Cardiff were forced into dragging down a formidable line-out drive.
Tries: Botham, Lewis-Hughes
Pens: Evans 2
Tries: Penalty try, Botha, Van den Bergh, Horn
Cons: Lombaard 3
Yellow card: Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff, 40 – repeated infringements)
Cardiff: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 James Botham, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Mason Grady, 23 Uilisi Halaholo.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Quan Horn, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Jean-Pierre Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Ruan Venter, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Zander du Plessis.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Carwyn Williams (Wales)
TMO: Ben Blain (Scotland)