Lions overcome Force(ful) resistance

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 06:30

SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Lions showed character to overcome a determined Western Force, winning 24-15 in Perth on Saturday.

The Lions were frustrated by a combination of the Force's energetic defensive display and the referee's puzzling rulings.

However, they will leave Perth with a full-house five points and their position on the top four of the competition well-and-truly cemented.

The Lions went into the match with an imposing record of seven wins and just one loss this season and were short-priced favourites against the struggling Force, but the game was in the balance until the dying minutes.

The visitors ran in the only three tries of the match.

However, the match was still in the balance heading into the final minute, with the Lions adding their final try following a scrum after the final hooter.

Elton Jantjies cut through the Force defence with pace to snare a potentially important bonus point and get their Australian tour off to an ideal start.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley said it was a hard-fought win.

"Credit to the Force, they played extremely well and defended like trojans," he said.

"Elton stepped up and got us that bonus point and that could be crucial."

Force skipper Matt Hodgson said his side left everything on the field, but made some costly mistakes.

"We just weren't clinical enough around the breakdown and in the set pieces," he said.

"The effort was there."

The boot of Ian Prior kept the Force in the match, kicking five penalties for the team which is expected to be cut from the competition at the end of the season.

The Force have only two wins from eight matches, but showed plenty of defensive grit to stay in the match against the classier Lions outfit.

It wasn't a match of brilliant individual highlights and the visitors set up their win with two first-half tries.

Lionel Mapoe dived over next to the posts in the seventh minute after some sloppy Force defence.

In the 36th minute the Lions opened up a 14-6 lead when some crisp and speedy passing ended with Courtnall Skosan racing down the sideline for their second try.

Man of the match: Matt Hodgson lead the way with the defensive energy showed by a willing Western Force team. Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was just as energetic, but more reckless. The Lions' forwards - captain Warren Whiteley, flank Albertus Smith, locks Franco Mostert and Andries Ferreira, and most of all hooker Malcolm Marx - put in the hard yards. However, the most important play of the match came from a cool, calm and collected Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies - who scored the bonus-point try with a neat show-and-go deep into injury time. He gets our award.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:
Pens:
 Prior 4

For the Lions:
Tries:
 Mapoe, Skosan, Jantjies
Cons: Jantjies 2
Pen: Jantjies

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Marcel Brache, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Luke Burton, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Onehunga Havilli, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Peter Grant.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink.

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Amy Perrett (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Thu, 25 May 2017
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 26 May 2017
Blues v Chiefs 07h45 Auckland
Reds v Force 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 27 May 2017
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 05h15 Tokyo
Highlanders v Waratahs 07h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Crusaders 09h45 Melbourne
Bulls v Hurricanes 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13h30 London
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Kings Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h15 Dublin
Jaguares v Brumbies 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 12h30 Ellis Park Stadium
Wed, 31 May 2017
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Ascoli Piceno
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 11 4 0 7 23
Waratahs 11 4 0 7 19
Reds 11 3 0 8 16
Force 11 3 0 8 13
Rebels 11 1 1 9 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 12 0 0 54
Hurricanes 11 9 0 2 43
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 43
Highlanders 12 9 0 3 41
Blues 12 6 0 6 31
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 11 7 0 4 30
Bulls 11 3 0 8 15
Cheetahs 12 2 0 10 11
Sunwolves 11 1 0 10 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 11 0 1 51
Sharks 12 8 1 3 38
Jaguares 11 5 0 6 24
Kings 11 4 0 7 19