With heavy downpours before kickoff, the Lions narrowly made the best of damp conditions by securing their first Super Rugby win of the season, beating the Reds 27-20 at Ellis Park.
However, in general it was a stuttering effort and showed the fairly inexperienced team still has a long road to travel.
Surprisingly, the hosts were mauled at scrum time, struggled to break down a resolute Reds defence and had to rely on some predatory if inconsistent attacking play to finally give themselves some sort of buffer.
They eventually outscored their opponents by four tries to two, but the match in general wasn’t a great advertisement for the tournament.
Who was the star in this match?
Lions right wing Tyrone Green is a bundle of energy enthusiasm and skill. He was full value again in this game as he scored his team’s opening two tries, the first following up a superb grubber from his flyhalf and captain Elton Jantjies and, again, on the opposite side of the field when he stepped in-field from his left foot to mislead his defenders. He just missed out his hat-trick in the 50th when TMO Marius Jonker ruled he put a foot in touch.
Key moments and themes
- After losing their first lineout of the game early, the Lions conceded three penalties at scrum-time of which two in the first half were converted into points. It was to become a disconcerting theme of the game for the Lions, who for the last five years have prided themselves on a powerful scrum. When their dominated in such fashion, they lose a major platform for their attacking game.
- An extension of those troubles was also how the Reds neutralised their rolling maul, though they were rewarded when flank Marnus Schoeman bulldozed his way over but the try could easily have gone to lock Marvin Orie as well but it still gave the Lions a crucial 17-13 advantage at the break.
- But it would’ve been frustrating to home fans how they patently failed to take advantage when the Reds received two yellow cards – prop Taniela Tupou in the 39th minute and again in the 44th minute to replacement prop Josh Nassa – for pulling down mauls. Part of the problem in that regard was that the Lions’ forwards couldn’t quite dominate the collisions.
- On balance, the Reds probably couldn’t be too miffed at the loss as they were generally on the defensive, though they could’ve taken more advantage of their set-piece dominance.
- After a poor showing last week in Argentina, Jantjies, despite missing two conversions, looked more assured in general play and dictated terms reasonably well. The Lions and Boks will be relieved.
Lions – Tries: Tyrone Green (2), Marnus Schoeman, Courtnall Skosan. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.
Reds – Tries: Jock Campbell, Tate McDermott. Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (2). Penalties: Hegarty (2).