The Lions used the Ellis Park altitude factor to good effect to eventually beat the Brumbies 42-24 at a chilly Ellis Park on Saturday night.
Yet for at least 65 minutes they hardly looked like a team who would scare any of the top dogs in the Super Rugby competition.
Eventually outlasting the Brumbies to score six tries to three, the Lions at least cemented their place at the top of the SA Conference but seriously hard work awaits coach Swys de Bruin and his charges.
The Brumbies ill-discipline caught up to them with both locks sent off – first Rory Arnold for a dangerous tackle on Lions centurion Elton Jantjies in the 62nd minute and then Sam Carter minutes later for pulling down a maul on his own goalline.
Who was the star in this match?
There were not many standout players on either side but the award will have to go to Brumbies fullback Tom Banks, who twice threatened to turn the game on his head by splitting the Lions defence to pieces, firstly with his opening try and then again in the 53rd minute to hand the visitors the lead back at 24-21. His pace is really something to marvel at.
Key moments and themes
- The Lions were barely starting to flex their muscles or Brumbies fullback Tom Banks ghosted through for the first try of the game with barely two minutes gone on the stadium clock for a 7-0 lead. It appeared as though there were a big defensive lap between Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies and left wing Madosh Tambwe. That was to become a theme as the home side were generally inaccurate on defence.
- The Lions pushed hard and eventually they got their reward in the 10th minute through their opening try to level matters at 7-7 by centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg after a reverse pass, but only after a try by wing Sylvian Mahuza was disallowed by TMO Marius Jonker just two minutes earlier. It was suppose to spring the Lions into action but that didn’t happen.
- In the 17th minute however Brumbies centurion and centre Tevita Kuridrani swirled his way over the Lions goalline after the Lions suspect backline defence was again found wanting.
- Two more tries by hooker Robbie Coetzee in the 30th and by frontrow partner Ruan Dreyer on the stroke of halftime – both after maul movements – ensured the Lions went into the den 21-17 up but they were sure to break more sweat on a chilly eve in the second half.
Lions – Tries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Dreyer, Marnus Schoeman, Shaun Reynolds, Lourens Erasmus. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (6).
Brumbies – Tries: Tom Banks (2), Tevita Kuridrani. Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (3). Penalty: Leali’ifano (1)