Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

URC result: Lions fast start, strong finish floors Leinster

Credit must go to the Lions who started like a house on fire and then finished brilliantly to secure a fantastic result.

A fast start and powerful finish helped the Lions power to a superb 44-12 bonus point win over Irish giants Leinster in their United Rugby Championship (URC) match-up at a bouncing Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

It was decidedly a second-string Leinster team that took part in the game, however they had enough experience and decent players in their line-up to not be blown away in such fashion.

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But credit must go to the Lions who started like a house on fire, before they faded a bit during the first half and start of the second, and then finished brilliantly to secure a fantastic result that firmly ignites their top eight challenge.

Flying start

In the match Lions got off to an absolute flyer as scored straight from the kick-off, securing the ball and sending it down the line where flank JC Pretorius made the break and offloaded to scrumhalf Morne van den Berg to run in untouched.

Flyhalf Sanele Nohamba slotted the conversion and then added a penalty in the sixth minute to put them into a 10-0 lead.

The fantastic start continued in the 12th minute as the Lions started an attack from their own half, getting the ball out wide to eighthman Francke Horn, who found Pretorius and Van Den Berg before he offloaded to inside centre Marius Louw to finish off a stunning try.

Three minutes later the Lions were in again as Leinster dropped the ball in their half, with Nohamba picking up and streaking away, before giving the ball to fullback Quan Horn to outstrip the last defender and go in, with the successful conversion putting them into a 22-0 lead.

After the disastrous start, Leinster finally found their feet in the second 20 minutes of the half as they started to dominate, with some good pressure in the hosts 22m.

However a brilliant Lions defensive shift Lions kept the visitors out, as they held them up over the line and Leinster thought they had scored but it was in the end ruled short as the half finished with the hosts well on top.

Leinster thought they had gotten off to the perfect start in the second half when replacement back Cormac Foley went over in the 44th minute, but the TMO saw a forward pass in the build-up so it was chalked off.

Further ahead

This allowed the Lions to go further ahead in the 48th minute as Nohamba snuck a long range penalty just over as they moved 25-0 up.

Leinster finally opened their account in the 54th minute as they attacked from a scrum in the Lions half, with flyhalf Harry Byrne grubbering through and fullback Ciaran Frawley dotting down the converted score.

But the Lions hit straight back three minutes later as Louw superbly turned the ball over in his own half and Nohamba put a grubber into the Leinster 22m, where right wing Richard Kriel picked up and was tackled just short, offloading to flank Emmanuel Tshituka to go over and score.

Frawley was in for his second try in the 63rd minute, as Leinster attacked from a lineout in the Lions 22m, but replacement flyhalf Sam Prendergast missed the conversion to leave the score 30-12.

The Lions then put the icing on the cake with two late tries to seal a massive win and firmly put them into contention for the URC top eight.

First in the 77th minute they turned the ball over just in Leinster’s half and attacked, with the ball going wide where left wing Edwill van Der Merwe flew into the 22m and offloaded to Tshituka to score his second.

After the fulltime hooter Horn, playing in his 50th game for the Lions, celebrated with the final try, picking up a top grubber from Lions replacement flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse to score, with Hendrikse slotting both conversions for a big win.


Lions: Tries – Morne van den Berg, Marius Louw, Quan Horn, Emmanuel Tshituka (2), Francke Horn; Conversions – Sanele Nohamba (2), Jordan Hendrikse (2); Penalties – Nohamba (2)

Leinster: Tries – Ciaran Frawley (2); Conversion – Harry Byrne