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Honours even in Ellis Park thriller

Fri, 30 Aug 2013 19:24
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Lions fight back to draw seven-try thriller against unbeaten WP
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The Golden Lions and defending champions Western Province played to a 31-31 draw in an entertaining Currie Cup encounter at Ellis Park on Friday.
 
WP led 25-10 at half-time, but the hosts - who had fought back so well against the Blue Bulls last week - turned the tables on the Men from the Cape in the second half in this 62-point thriller in Johannesburg.
 
Province were ahead from the fifth minute of the game right up until the 69th minute, when the Lions took the lead through a try by captain Derick Minnie.
 
It was no accident, however, the Lions having had 97% of the possession between the 62nd and 72nd minutes - the pressure having been building on WP since they conceded a penalty try and also lost inside centre Damian de Allende to a 46th-minute yellow card.
 
De Allende had earlier opened his team's account in the fifth minute, crashing over from close-range after WP had done all the early running and dominated early possession.
 
Flyhalf Kurt Coleman missed the conversion but he was on target five minutes later when little speedster Cheslin Kolbe shook the foundation of Ellis Park with every gentle stride across the turf. The SA Under-20 and SA Sevens ace reacted quickly from turnover ball and after realising he was not held in the tackle he sped away and finished in the left-hand corner, Coleman's deadeye conversion from out wide stunning the crowd into even more silence.
 
The Lions conceded a Coleman penalty in the 16th minute and eventually opened their account when Marnitz Boshoff slotted a penalty in the 24th minute, but Tiaan Liebenberg cancelled that out with a typically robust try to make it 22-3 to the visitors.
 
The hosts pulled one back before the break - a converted Deon Helberg try, despite what looked like a knock-on by CJ van der Linde in the lead-up to the score - but a second Coleman penalty saw WP head into half-time at 25-10 up.
 
Oddly, and worryingly for WP, whilst they were dominating on the scoreboard, the Lions were leading the possession stakes at the break.
 
The second half got off to a controversial start when De Allende seemed to rip the ball away from Boshoff in the tackle on the WP goalline. Referee Jaco Peyper went upstairs to the TMO to rule if Boshoff had in fact scored and was instead advised to award a penalty try and yellow card the tackler, De Allende, who had assisted scrumhalf Nic Groom in a last-gasp try-saver.
 
Boshoff kicked the simple conversion from under the uprights and although WP ended up 'winning' the next ten minutes by 3-0, the Lions' one-man advantage slowly began to chip away at the game visitors as the clock rapidly wound its way towards the final quarter in this exciting contest.
 
That mounting pressure told when No.10 Elton Jantjies - a Stormer during Super Rugby and, thus, a familiar face to his WP opponents - dummied his way over for a try to narrow the gap to 24-28 after 63 minutes.
 
Lions replacement Jaco Kriel, who surprisingly began the game on the bench, made a significant impact in the game in the lead-up to Jantjies' try and he was again at the forefront as the hosts' captain Minnie powered over to put his team ahead - for the first time on the night - in the 69th minute.
 
The visitors, who began this match in first place on the log and as the only unbeaten team in the 2013 Currie Cup, had two chances in the final 10 minutes to kick at goal and, eventually, they took the second (and final) opportunity - Coleman landing a penalty goal as the full-time hooter sounded to leave the score deadlocked at 31-31.
 
Perhaps a draw was the most fair outcome in a match which really was a game of two halves and WP captain Deon Fourie admitted afterwards: "It was very frustrating as we let ourselves down in the last twenty minutes - like we did against the Blue Bulls in Round One.
 
"We lost our structure a bit in the second half, and we need to take a good look at ourselves, but we will take the two points away from home."
 
Lions skipper Minnie added: "The guys came back in the second half after a disappointing first half. Province caught us off-guard, we let ourselves down and we have to pick it up next week as head on the road against Griquas."
 
Man of the Match: Golden Lions lock Franco van der Merwe must be the most underrated player in the country, his tireless work not going unnnoticed by us. WP centres Damian de Allende (yellow card aside) and Juan de Jongh (that try miss apart) got through a mountain of work on attack and defence and visiting scrumhalf Nic Groom was sharp. Flanker Jaco Kriel made an incredible and game-turning impact off the bench for the Lions and captain Derick Minnie scored a valuable try. WP speedster Cheslin Kolbe, he of the fast feet and mind, was our leading contender after the opening half, but he did not see enough ball in the second half. (Note: His try WILL be a contender for Try of the Season come October.) Our choice in the end? Franco van der Merwe. Given the amount of errors and the see-saw nature of this match, he was the one constant throughout.
 
Scorers:
 
For the MTN Golden Lions:
Tries: Helberg, Penalty try, Jantjies, Minnie
Cons: Boshoff 4
Pen: Boshoff
 
For Western Province:
Tries: De Allende, Kolbe, Liebenberg
Cons: Coleman 2
Pens: Coleman 4
 
Teams:
 
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Robert De Bruyn, 12 Dylan Des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Guy Cronje, 8 Lambert Groenewald, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Willie Britz, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 JJ Breet, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Andries Coetzee.
 
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 Michael van der Spuy.
 
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Sieg van Staden
TMO: Willie Roos
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