Four tries to one
The Golden Lions booked their place in the Currie Cup play-offs with a come-from-behind 35-28 win over Griquas in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Needing just two points to be certain, the Lions secured their place in the semifinals with a full-house five points through the a four-tries-to-one victory.
As has been the case all season, the Lions allowed the opposition to race clear early in the game - Griquas leading 16-3 at the end of the first quarter - and then having to chase the scoreboard.
The Lions made hard work of it, getting their four-try bonus point only in the 75th minute.
While their free-running, expansive approach is always entertaining, it is on defence where they still let themselves down too often
Griquas did two things very well - they rushed up on defence, hitting the Lions' ball-carriers hard, and they also managed to disrupt the Lions' driving maul, which had been one of the Lions' main attacking weapons all season.
Although Griquas' tactics in stopping the mauls were not always legal, they were effective.
The Lions took the early lead, a Marnitz Boshoff penalty in the third minute after a mistake by Griquas from the kick-off. However, three Gouws Prinsloo penalties saw Griquas take a 9-3 lead inside the first quarter.
That became 16-3 when Rocco Jansen scored the opening try - coming after a counter from inside their 22 and finishing with a chip-and-collect by Jansen. Prinsloo added the conversion.
Then Lions continued to hammer away and despite a couple of turnover, they managed to get themselves back into the game just short of the half-hour mark. Prop Jacques van Rooyen barged over, receiving a great pass from scrumhalf Michael Bondesio, after the forwards took the ball through a few phases.
And moments later Anthony Volmink got the home team's second try - coming after a sublime grubber by new centre Andries Coetzee. Boshoff, who kicked the first conversion, was wide with this attempt - making it a one-point (15-16) game.
Prinsloo kicked his fourth penalty four minutes from the break, giving his team a four-point lead at half-time.
The Griquas fullback made that 22-15 four minutes into the second half, as the Lions' error and penalty counts continued to mount.
The Lions, past masters in chasing the game when going behind, saw hooker Willie Wepener going over next to the uprights after a period of sustained pressure - with the forwards doing most of the hard work. Boshoff's conversion levelled the scores at 22-all.
Boshoff and Prinsloo exchanged penalties (two each), leaving the game all square going into the final 10 minutes.
The Lions booked their place in the play-offs with a try by replacement Willie Britz, who received a sublime inside pass from Warren Whiteley - with the lanky loose forward weaving his way past the cover on a 40-metre run. Boshoff kicked the conversion - 35-28, with just minutes remaining on the clock.
Man of the match: The boot of Gouws Prinsloo was invaluable to Griquas, both when kicking at goal and helping out with clearance kicks. Springbok Lourens Adriaanse brought stability to the visitors' scrums. The Lions loose forwards, as always, produced a mountain of work and had a huge influence on the game. Hooker Willie Wepener and lock Franco van der Merwe also did a lot of the hard yards. However, our award goes to Andries Coetzee, impressed in his new role as inside centre - epitomised in the sublime little grubber producing a try for Anthony Volmink.
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Van Rooyen, Volmink, Wepener, Britz
Cons: Boshoff 3
Pens: Boshoff 3
Pens: Prinsloo 7
Yellow card: Simon Westraadt (Griquas, 78 - professional foul, killing the ball)
Golden Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Andries Coetzee, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacobus Roux, 18 Lambert Groenewald, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Kobus de Kock.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Du Randt Gerber, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Jaco Nepgen, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Rynhard Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse (captain), 2 Matthew Dobson, 1 Janro van Niekerk.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Dalton Davis, 19 Patrick O'Brien, 20 Enrico Acker, 21 JP Nel, 22 Logan Basson.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Sieg van Staden
TMO: Johan Greeff