Lions maintain hold on top spot
September 2, 2011
Lions fly-half Elton Jantjies kicked four conversions and two penalties against the Pumas © Getty Images
The Golden Lions made it seven wins from eight games in this season's Currie Cup with a dramatic bonus point-clinching 34-20 over the Pumas at Nelspruit on Friday evening.
The outcome was essentially beyond doubt by half-time, with the visitors opening up a 27-6 lead by the break. Their first try came courtesy of a terrific break from Jaco Taute, who got on the end of his own chip forward before putting wing Michael Killian away to score.
After the two side's respective goal-kickers, Coenie van Wyk and Elton Jantjies, exchanged penalties, the Lions struck again when flanker Michael Rhodes touched down after a powerful charge. The league leaders racked up their third try just before the interval when Taute forced his way over.
A rout appeared inevitable but the Pumas battled bravely in the second period. Indeed, they bossed the third quarter before their efforts were finally rewarded with a try, through skipper Corne Steenkamp. They gave themselves real hope of salvaging a losing bonus point when MJ Mentz followed his captain over soon after but it was the Lions who ended up coming away with an extra point, lock Johan Snyman worming his way over the whitewash in the closing stages.
Western Province recorded their third win on the spin by edging out the Griquas 41-35 in a thrilling encounter in Kimberley on Saturday.
The Griquas struck first, with fullback Rudi Vogt touching down after a sustained spell of pressure from the home side. Vogt failed to convert his own try but he made amends by landing a penalty soon after before being on hand to add the extras after Davon Raubenheimer had raced clear to score following a terrific team move.
Down by 15 points after just 20 minutes, Province were reeling but they got themselves back into the game when the gamble to go for an attacking lineout in favour of a shot at goal paid off, with Tiaan Liebenberg, the man who had made the bold call, flopping over. The visitors then drew to within a point when No.8 Nick Koster finished smartly before taking the lead just before the break though Duvenage, who raced away to score after good work from Johann Sadie.
The bonus point try arrived early in the second half courtesy of fullback Conrad Jantjes but the Griquas weren't done and responded through Davon Raubenheimer. The game had developed into a real ding-dong battle and after Province had threatened to pull clear once more after a try from wing JJ Engelbrecht, the hosts hit right back with a second try of the afternoon from Vogt.
The Griquas then edged 32-31 in front courtesy of a Marnus Schoeman but Province were not to be denied and two late tries from Sadie and Engelbrecht saw them home, Earl Rose's late penalty only good enough to ensure that the home side came out of a terrific game of rugby with two points instead of just one.
The Natal Sharks took advantage of the Griquas' loss to climb to third in the table with a stirring 39-27 victory over the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.
The Durban outfit did most of their damage in the first half, opening up a commanding 23-point lead after just 17 minutes of play with tries from Sibusiso Sithole and Craig Burden, three penalties from Meyer Bosman and two successful conversion attempts from Frederic Michalak.
The Bulls gave their beleaguered fans something to cheer about when Warwick Tecklenburg forced his way over from closs range before dragging themselves right back into contention when Bjorn Basson finished off a terrific counter-attack from deep.
Michalak steadied the ship for the Sharks by landing three penalties to push the visitors' lead out to 32-15 before Lwazi Mvovo put the outcome beyond all doubt when he raced away to score. There was still time for the Bulls to salvage some pride with late tries from Basson, again, and CJ Stander but they had left it too late to nick a losing bonus point.
Meanwhile, the free-scoring Free State Cheetahs also benefitted from the Griquas' defeat as they climbed into the play-off places with a 64-17 demolition of the Leopards in Potchefstroom.
The Cheetahs reigned supreme throughout, taking a firm grip of the game with first-half tries from prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who dotted twice, and No.8 Boom Prinsloo. The Leopards' sole riposte was a penalty from fly-half Wesley Dunlop.
The visitors ran riot in the second period with Marcel van der Merwe, Philip Burger, Cameron Jacobs, Hercu Liebenberg, Riaan Smit and Philip Snyman all crossing. The Leopards did manage two tries of their own, through Whestley Moolman and Joubert Engelbrecht, but those scores offered scant consolation to a side which now lies tied for last place with the Pumas.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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