Gutsy Griquas upset Lions
REPORT: Griquas produced some of their best rugby to date to beat the Golden Lions 30-24 in their Currie Cup encounter at Griqua Park in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.
Taking on the Lions while in the last spot on the points log, it was thought that the Lions - who come from a bonus point victory in their first game and a good Super Rugby campaign - would dominate the hosts.
And a quick try in the starting seconds echoed what many fans had feared. But credit must go to the Peacock Blues, who played some of the best rugby this season to beat the visitors without a bonus point in a game where they were undoubtedly regarded as underdogs.
The Lions started with a good five-pointers early as the 37th second, with hooker Armand van der Merwe dotting down under the uprights as Griquas fumbled a pass in the back line. The hosts regained their concentration and even put together some impressive phases of play.
A penalty in the 16th minute was well deserved for Griquas and that spurred the hosts to put together more good phases. It resulted in them taking the lead for the first time in the game as fullback AJ Coertzen rounded off a brilliant piece of play and centre Clinton Swarts converted.
The latter kicked a penalty to stretch the lead even further, and what followed was the almost unthinkable as Griquas started to dominate. Upfront, their forwards put the Lions under immense pressure and it paid dividends as prop Stephan Kotze also burst over against a flabbergasted Lions side.
It was another loose pass that enabled the Lions to sneak back as centre Howard Mnisi picked up the loose ball and ran almost 60 metres to score. Jaco van der Walt was on hand to convert to reduce the deficit to eight points.
Two minutes from half-time, Lions flyhalf van der Walt was yellow carded for a tip-tackle to emphasize the lacklustre first half the visitors had. Griquas went into the break leading 20-12, a deserving lead after an impressive first half.
The Lions no doubt got a stern talking to from coach Johan Ackermann at the break and it reflected in their approach. Flank Cyle Brink dotted down and replacement Marnitz Boshoff converted to see the visitors trailing by a single point.
Griquas still had a lot of fight left in them, and continued pressure on the Lions meant that their defensive line started to show cracks. The hosts exploited that as scrumhalf Poerie van Rooyen took a quick tap from a penalty and scored under the uprights to give Swarts an easy conversion.
A penalty by replacement Andre Swart put Griquas ahead by 11 points. The Lions tried to reduce the deficit, and crept closer with a 74th minute try by replacement Corne Fourie, but it was too late as Griquas kept the lead for possibly the upset of the competition.
Tries: Coertzen, Kotze, Van Rooyen
Cons: Swarts 3
Pens: Swarts 2, Swart
Tries: Van der Merwe, Mnisi, Brink, Fourie
Cons: Van der Walt, Boshoff
Yellow card: Jaco van der Walt (Lions, dangerous play - tip tackle, 38)
Griquas: 15 Adriaan Coertzen, 14 Jacobus Jonker, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 RJ Liebenberg, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 4 Sias Koen, 3 Stephan Kotzé, 2 Abraham le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Mzwanele Zito, 19 Stephan Vermeulen, 20 Renier Botha, 21 André Swart, 22 Eric Zana.
Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Nicolas Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi (co-captain), 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronje (co-captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Steph de Wit, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Bobby de Wee, 19 Ruaan Lerm, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jacques Nel.
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Mpho Matsaung, Darren Colby
TMO: JJ Wagner