The Auto & General Super 14 Lions earned a morale-boosting 33-27 win over the touring Chiefs at Ellis Park Stadium on Saturday night to do both themselves and the Sharks and Stormers a huge favour.
Match report from the official Lions website, www.lionsrugby.co.za.
The win may mean little in the grand scheme of the log table for the home side, but it certainly showed that with backs against the walls and the pressure to perform, the players came out and heroically did the business against a team fighting for a top four finish.
The Auto & General Super 14 Lions raced into an early 10-0 lead against their more fancied opponents and found themselves on the front foot in the opening quarter, thanks to a try to Chris Jonck. They almost had another try as Jaque Fourie’s strength and experience came to the fore as he broke tackles and made huge yards, but a subsequent knock-on put paid to their efforts when it looked like they had another try under the belt.
It stung the Chiefs into action as they sparked a fight-back and were rewarded with 13 unanswered points to race into a 13-10 lead. Willem Alberts got over for his team’s second try and suddenly the home side were back in the game.
It was the home side’s prowess at the breakdown, competing at every opportunity at the tackle and earning either turn-over ball or crucial free-kicks to ease the pressure on defence and when they had the opportunities, they certainly took them.
Rose’s unerring boot kept piling on the points as they started to ease ahead and then following a lovely break, Cobus Grobbelaar rounded off the movement to score the try that with the conversion, would take his side into a 14-point lead with a quarter of the match remaining.
The sides hammered away at each other and there were some anxious moments as the Chiefs attacked down the touchline and scored in the corner, only for the try to be over-ruled following a Red Card incident to Ben May and the home side maintained their lead.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Auto & General Super 14 Lions earned two kickable penalties minutes apart which Rose duly converted and the Chiefs looked dead and buried trailing by 20 points.
With two minutes of the game remaining, the Chiefs did well to grubber and re-collect for wing Leila Masaga to score under the posts, but the home side had done too much.
With time up on the clock, the Chiefs made good with a final try but it was in vain as the home side had done enough to win the game.
Auto & General Super 14 Lions 33
Tries: Chris Jonck, Willem Alberts, Cobus Grobbelaar
Conversions: Earl Rose (3)
Penalties: Earl Rose (4)
Tries: Aled De Malmanche, Leila Masaga, Mils Muliaina
Conversions: Stephen Donald (3)
Penalties: Donald (2).