Lions end losing streak ... just
CURRIE CUP MATCH REPORT: The Golden Lions ended a four-match losing streak, beating the Pumas 29-28 in a thrilling match at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Despite outscoring the visitors by five tries to four, the Lions almost gifted the match to the opposition through desperately poor goal-kicking and lapses in concentration.
However, they will celebrate the win - even though they remain last on the seven-team standings.
Discipline, or rather the blatant absence of it, is what cost the visitors.
The Pumas' penalty count went well into double figures and it is somewhat surprising they only had two players in the sin bin - given the number of 'final' warnings from the referee.
The two bonus points they took from the match - one for four tries and another for losing by seven points or less - see the Pumas move to fifth place on the standings and still in the hunt for a play-off spot.
The match got off to a blistering start as Ryan Kankowski dotted down with the opening whistle still ringing around the stadium when he cleanly picked the ball from his boot straps and dived over into an unguarded corner.
However, as has so often been the case for the Lions this season, their opponents responded immediately with a try of their when Stefan Ungerer tapped quickly from a penalty and exploited cavernous holes in the Lions defence.
The sides again traded alternating blows 10 minutes later as first Ruan Dreyer ran over Jerome Pretorius from close range to nudge the home side back into the lead before Pumas flank Lambert Groenewald reached out a long arm to bag his team's second.
The Lions have now conceded 40 tries in seven matches, more than anyone else in the competition, and once again looked suspect on defence.
With ball in hand though, they retain their ability to be dazzling and ended the half with a further two tries. The second of which was the result of a piece of brilliance from Ashlon Davids. The diminutive flyhalf did not have his radar working from the tee, missing four kicks at goal, but he was pinpoint in his cross field punt to Madosh Tambwe who hardly had to move to open up a deserving eight-point lead heading into the break.
The pattern of the first half was replicated in the second with both sides scoring within a few minutes of each other. First another quick tap and darting run from Ungerer culminated in Groenewald's second of the game before Rohan Janse van Rensburg finished off a slick Lions move with Davids adding the extra two to restore the eight point advantage.
As both sides emptied their benches the game descended into a disjointed affair as referee Egon Seconds had a difficult time keeping a handle on the scrums and breakdown.
Both sets of forwards were clearly running out of gas and with all sixteen big men coalesced in the middle of the field, a hacked ball forward from a Puma boot found Pretorius in acres of space who unloaded for wing Ruwellyn Isbell to score under the posts.
With only eight minutes to go, Pumas lock Hugo Kloppers received his marching orders for slowing the ball down and with a man advantage the Lions comfortably held on to their slender lead.
Both teams remain in the North as the Lions head to Kimberly next week to take on Griquas, as the Pumas make the trip home to Nelspruit to play host to the Sharks.
Man of the match: Ashlon Davids may be a great play-maker, but his kicking leaves a lot to be desired. Lions midfielder's Manual Rass and Rohan Janse van Rensburg were both very dangerous with ball in hand. Ryan Kankowski showed his experience and great skillset. However, our award goes to Lions scrumhalf Marco Jansen van Vuren - for his classy performance and great vision.
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Kankowski, Dreyer, Jansen van Vuuren, Tambwe, Janse van Rensburg
Cons: Davids 2
For the Pumas:
Tries: Ungerer, Groenewald 2, Isbell
Cons: Marais 4
Yellow cards: Jerome Pretorius (Pumas, 45 - foul play, high tackle), Lambert Groenewald (Pumas, 72 - repeated infringements, killing the ball)
Golden Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Manual Rass, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Ashlon Davids, 9 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen (captain).
Replacements: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Branco du Preez, 22 Jaco van der Walt.
Pumas: 15 Gerrit Smith, 14 Jean-Paul Lewis, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Hennie Skorbinski (captain), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Mark Pretorius, 1 Kwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Brian Shabangu, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Reynier van Rooyen, 22 Neil Maritz.
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant referees: Ruhan Meiring, Eduan Nel
TMO: Johan Greeff