Lions in injury-time win over WP
The Lions claimed a tense 26-23 Currie Cup win over WP in Johannesburg, Elton Jantjies slotting the winning kick in the fourth minute of injury-time.
The Golden Lions claimed a tense 26-23 Currie Cup win over Western Province at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg, flyhalf Elton Jantjies slotting the winning kick in the fourth minute of injury-time.
WP outscored the Lions by two tries to one, but Jantjies' boot was the difference in the end as the defending champions prevailed in this tight affair.
"We knew we needed to be patient and make our first time tackles," said Jantjies at full-time, when asked if his team had panicked after finding themselves 0-10 down after the opening 13 minutes. "We knew it would take an 80-minute performance [to beat WP] and I also knew that I just had to kick my goals."
It was the visitors, who lost twice to the Lions in Johannesburg in last year's Currie Cup - 42-25 (league) and 29-20 (semifinals), who ran into an early 10-0 lead at the 'Coke Tin'.
In fact, it was all WP in the opening exchanges and the visitors were rewarded through a Gerhard van den Heever try, with Demetri Catrakilis converting and adding a penalty all inside the first 13 minutes.
The Lions eventually opened their account through Jantjies in the 15th minute to trail 3-10 and their best passage of play came in the final 15 minutes of the first half - former captain Josh Strauss crashing over in the 27th minute thanks to some good go-forward ball. Jantjies missed the conversion but that was to be his only blemish off the kicking tee as a penalty 10 minutes later put the Lions in the lead for the first time - just three minutes before the break.
Although the Lions briefly had their moments on attack, centre Lionel Mapoe with a clean break in the midfield and winger Anthony Volmink just losing a race against the dead-ball line, the home side seemed content enough to let Jantjies' boot do the talking whenever they got into the WP half.
The result was five second-half penalties from Jantjies - four in regulation time and that one in injury-time.
Going into the last five minutes, the Lions led 23-16 with WP hot on the attack.
A yellow card to replacement prop CJ van der Linde, as WP took three quick penalties in succession, suddenly sparked the game into a frantic finale and when Brok Harris crashed over from close-range, and Catrakilis converted, the scores were tied at 23-23.
The Lions won a penalty basically straight from the restart (Gio Aplon was ruled to have been ahead of the kicker - Dewaldt Duvenage) and, bizarrely, opted for a scrum despite being a man down and with the clock well into injury-time. They managed to win possession back, however, and headed right - making valuable ground and winning a penalty for side entry, WP captain Deon Fourie looking like the culprit.
Jantjies calmly stepped up to nail the kick from about 30 metres out - almost from straight in front - and the Lions came away with the four points.
It was not pretty, but it was a very valuable four log points for the Lions who, despite being the defending Currie Cup champions, are facing huge off-field difficulties at present; their coach John Mitchell having recently been booted under a cloud and their Super Rugby future seemingly in tatters (for 2013 at least). Wins, like this, could only be a good thing for their ailing players.
Man of the Match: WP loose forward Tyrone Holmes worked hard for his team, as did lock Don Armand. For the Lions, Josh Strauss had his moments and Lionel Mapoe and Anthony Volmink looked dangeours with the limited chances they had. In the end, however, the one man that made all the difference was flyhalf Elton Jantjies - his 21 points (missing just one conversion) proving invaluable in the final analysis, as it did in last year's Currie Cup.
For the Golden Lions:
Pens: Jantjies 7
For Western Province:
Tries: Van den Heever, Harris
Cons: Catrakilis 2
Pens: Catrakilis 3
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
WP: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 JP du Plessis, 22 Kurt Coleman.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistants: Ben Crouse, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff