The Lions, with South African Under-20 flyhalf Elton Jantjies in sublime form, scored a 30-26 come-from-behind Currie Cup victory over the Free State Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that not just did the Lions outscore the visitors by three tries to two, but they achieved the win with two converted tries in the final five minutes – one of them from Man of the Match Jantjies.
It was only the Lions’ second win of the season, but the signs of a revival are there.
The Cheetahs will be disappointed for letting a 10-point lead slip, but the Lions must be applauded for fighting right to the end – even when it seemed their discipline would let them down.
In front of a sparse crowd the Lions continued their approach of all-out attack.
While the Lions look very exciting, and even found a few gaps in the Cheetahs defence, their execution often let them down.
And in the first quarter they also had the majority of the possession – with the Cheetahs forced to make more than 50 tackles and the Lions just 16. While the Cheetahs had their moments in the latter stages of the first half, they execution also let them down.
As they have done so often this year, it appeared the Lions failed to capitalise in the good work they had done ion the first half. In fact they once again became their own worst enemies, with a series of errors that allowed the Cheetahs to build a comfortable lead.
In fact in the 20 minutes just after the break the Cheetahs had 80 percent of the possession. And for 10 minutes of that the Lions were a man down, though poor discipline.
However, the Lions regathered their composure and bounced back in the final quarter to score a well-deserved win.
After seven minutes of helter-skelter action – in which both teams showed their willingness to carry the ball in hand – the Cheetahs eventually opted to take a shot at goal. Louis Strydom slotted the penalty to open the scoring – 3-0 to the visitors.
The game continued for another 14 minutes, much in the same vein, before Strydom had another shot at goal – when the Lions scrums came under pressure and Ross Geldenhuys dropped his bind. Strydom made it 6-0 for the Cheetahs.
After taking a quick tap from an earlier penalty, and not getting much reward, Elton Jantjies eventually put the Lions on the board in the 19th minute – a penalty for an incorrect entry at a ruck – making it 3-6.
Jantjies came agonisingly close to scoring the game’s first try, in the 20th minute, but the TMO ruled that he did not touch down.
From the resulting five-metre scrum the Lions won a penalty at the breakdown and Jantjies leveled the scores – 6-all.
Just on the half-hour mark the Cheetahs won a penalty right in front, with the Lions transgressing in the face of a series of forward rushes by the Cheetahs. Strydom put his team back in front – 9-6 to the Cheetahs.
The first try of the match eventually came in the 38th minute – a sublime chip-kick by the Lions flyhalf, Jantjies, which showed just how much and what skills he has been taught by All Black Carlos Spencer. Wing Deon van Rensburg was on hand to collect the bouncing ball in open space and sprinted over for the score. Jantjies’ conversion made it 13-9, a lead the Lions kept going into the half-time break.
The Cheetahs got the second half off to the perfect start. A loose pass gave the Cheetahs an attacking line-out, which became a five-metre scrum, after several phases of forward rushes. The Cheetahs demolished the Lions scrum and Ashley Johnson strolled over for his team’s first try. Strydom made it 16-13 with the conversion.
And minutes later the Lions conceded another penalty, which was advanced 10 metres – allowing Strydom to stretch his team’s lead to 19-13.
The Lions’ disastrous start to the second half was compounded by a brain explosion from rookie flank Renaldo Bothma, who was yellow carded for knocking the ball out of the scrumhalf’s hands. However, the Cheetahs were unable to make their numerical advantage count – as they wasted the penalty and then conceded a number of turnovers.
With just over 15 minutes left on the clock the Lions got their first points of the half, a penalty by Jantjies – the result of replacement prop Kobus Calldo going offside – and at 16-19 it was game on again.
What appeared to be the most crucial score came with 12 minutes left on the clock. First Philip Snyman opened up the Lions’ defence and then Hennie Daniller cut through, before the replacement prop, Calldo, made amends for his earlier indiscretion by flopping over for the try from a couple of metres out. Meyer Bosman, who had taken over the goal-kicking after Strydom left the field, slotted the conversion for a 10-point lead – 26-16.
However, with five minute remaining Jantjies went over in the corner – following a long build-up and great interplay between the forwards and back. Jantjies added the conversion and at 23-26 it was game on again.
From the restart the Lions worked the ball through the phases and a kick upfield saw Jannie Boshoff collect the bouncing ball to score the try that put the Lions into the lead for the first time. Jantjies’ conversion made it 30-26 to the home team.
The home team played out the last few minutes to hold on for a famous win.
Man of the match: You can look at Coenie Oosthuizen’s bulldozing runs, or Meyer Bosman – who showed why he is often on the fringes of Bok selection. For the Lions there was Derick Minnie’s hard work and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak’s sniping runs and great defence. However, our man of the match is young Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies - who showed the full array of skills he has been taught by Carlos Spencer.
For the Lions:
Tries: Van Rensburg, Jantjies, Boshoff
Cons: Jantjies 3
Pens: Jantjies 3
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Johnson, Calldo
Cons: Strydom, Bosman
Pens: Strydom 4
Yellow card: Renaldo Bothma (Lions, 49 – professional foul, knocking the ball out of the scrumhalf’s hands)Tweet