Missed penalties and poor second half discipline cost the Lions as they fell to a disappointing 35-26 defeat against the Cheetahs in their Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park on Friday evening.
It was the Cheetahs’ eighth straight win and Lions ninth straight loss, showing the difference between the teams on opposite ends of the log.
However, the Lions were fully up for the game and held a deserved nine point lead after 65 minutes, but then watched in horror as their discipline went out the window allowing the Cheetahs to secure the win.
In the first half the Cheetahs started well and an early line out in the Lions 22m ended with flank Jeandre Rudolph crashing over to score, but the try was overturned due to obstruction in the maul.
This meant the Lions had a chance to go ahead with a penalty in the 10th minute, but fullback Tiaan Swanepoel missed a kick he should have slotted from distance but in front.
However the miss worked in the Lions favour as from the goal line drop out, the Lions attacked back into the Cheetahs half, spread the ball quickly down the line where Stean Pienaar managed to get away to run around and score under the posts for a converted try.
The Cheetahs discipline then started letting them down as Swanepoel knocked over two penalties either side of the Cheetahs second overturned try due to a double movement from prop Aranos Coetzee, putting the home side up 13-0 after 23 minutes.
Finally the Cheetahs managed to find their feet and got their massive maul working, with flank Gideon van der Merwe and hooker Marnus van der Merwe scoring off the back of them, both converted by scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, with them suddenly 14-13 up with two minutes to go in the half.
However the Lions showed great character to win the ball back from the kick off and attack the Cheetahs line, leading to Gideon van der Merwe being yellow carded for a professional foul.
The Lions then took a quick tap and flank Lindo Ncusane dived over, with the conversion giving the hosts a well-deserved 20-14 lead at the break.
The first 23 minutes of the second half was then a kicking battle as Swanepoel missed another kick he should have slotted, then he nailed his next two penalties either side one from Pienaar, before Swanepoel missed a tricky chance, with the score 26-17.
The Cheetahs then made the Lions pay for those misses as they scored a converted try in the 66th minute through left wing Duncam Saal, while Pienaar nailed a penalty three minutes later to put them ahead by a point.
Two yellow cards to Lions replacement forward Junior White and flank Sibusiso Sangweni in the last 10 minutes, plus an unconverted try to Cheetahs replacement hooker Louis van der Westhuizen and another Pienaar penalty closed out the match for the visitors.