Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Lions stay in Currie Cup knockout hunt, Pumas secure semi spot

In the day’s other game the Pumas win over the Griquas secured their knockout spot, while the visitors dropped out of the competition.

The Lions kept their slim chance of making the Currie Cup semi-finals alive with a 39-22 bonus point win over the Griffons in Welkom, while the Pumas sealed their place in the knockouts with a 27-17 win over the Griquas in Kimberley on Friday afternoon.

The Lions were made to work hard for it but did what they needed to move themselves up to fourth place on the log, but they still need the Cheetahs to beat the Bulls at Loftus without allowing the hosts a point, and the Sharks to beat Western Province in Cape Town in Saturday’s matches.

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In the game it was a strong first half from the Lions that set them up for the win, with the Griffons battling back superbly in the second half but not doing enough to threaten the visitors.

The side’s traded early converted tries with Lions flank JC Pretorius dotting down at the back of the maul and Griffons lock Riaan Olivier seizing on a mistake from the kick-off to score making it 7-all after 11 minutes.

A powerful final 14 minutes of the half then saw lock Ruben Schoeman crash over, wing Boldwin Hansen chase a grubber from scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba to dot down and hooker Jaco Visagie to run all of 50m to score, with Nohamba slotting two conversions for a 26-7 lead at the break.

The Griffons battled back at the start of the second half as outside centre CJ Coetzee scored off the kick-off and hooker HP van Schoor went over, either side a Nohamba penalty with the score 29-19 after 52 minutes.

Scrumhalf Jaywinn Juries and Nohamba then traded penalties, before the Lions sealed the win with a late converted score to lock Raynard Roets.

Knockouts secured

In the day’s other game the Pumas win over the Griquas secured their knockout spot, while the visitors dropped out of the competition.

In shades of last year’s final when the Pumas beat the Griquas at Griqua Park to pick up their first ever Currie Cup title, the defending champs again had to do it the hard way to secure their place in the playoffs, and duly did that with a good win.

It was a thrilling match with the team’s level pegging at 10-all at the break, after Griquas fullback George Whitehead and Pumas flyhalf Tinus de Beer traded early penalties, followed by late converted tries to home flyhalf Lubabalo Dobela and visiting lock Deon Slabbert.

The second half then started with the Griquas retaking the lead as flank Thabo Ndimande went over to score, only for the Pumas to hit back through their flank Francois Kleinhans making it 17-all after 51 minutes.

A 64th minute penalty to De Beer and a 75th minute converted try to replacement back Wian van Niekerk then sealed the win for the Pumas and kept their hopes of retaining their Currie Cup crown alive.