Lions make Province sweat for Currie Cup win

Despite enjoying the upper hand for most of the match, Western Province were made to sweat for their 25-20 victory against the Golden Lions in their Currie Cup Premier Division match at Newlands on Saturday evening.

The Lions’ defence, which was forced to make a massive number of tackles, was hugely impressive despite conceding three tries.

After both sides were guilty of making unforced errors at the start, Province sprung their first purposeful raid from their own 10m line.

Their fourth minute foray into the Lions’ 22m area may have ended with a Tonderai Chavhanga try but for fine cover defence by Lions rightwing Dusty Noble.

He darted in from the opposite side to make a try-saving tackle. Province centre Morgan Newman was prominent in the build-up before he put Chavhanga away.

For six sustained minutes the Province attack hammered away at the Lions’ tryline but they failed to crack the defence after they were stopped just short at least five times.

Eventually Province called on the tried and trusted driving maul from a line-out for their first score as skipper Luke Watson rounded off. Fullback Joe Pietersen added the conversion (7-0).

Province continued to turn on the pressure but after the Lions absorbed the pressure they managed to secure a turn-over inside their own half and this was a cue for counter-attack from which they very nearly reaped reward.

However, Lions flanker Franco van der Merwe was brought down just short of the tryline by Province fullback Peter Grant near the Railway Stand corner flag in the 18th minute.

The Lions had to settle for a Herkie Kruger penalty two minutes later to open their scoring account (7-3).

The Province defence were caught napping three minutes later at a scrum on their 22m line as their defence leaked a yawning gap in a channel in front of the grandstand and Lions scrumhalf Jano Vermaak ran in unchallenged to score a converted try, which gave the visitors a narrow one-point lead (8-7).

Some 14 minutes away from the halftime break, Province virtually camped on the Lions’ tryline and for most of the way they had to be content with two Pietersen penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking as they regained the lead (13-8).

They did, however, finally make a breakthrough a minute into injury time when Pietersen went over at the corner flag for an unconverted try (18-8). Just before this advance Province were reduced to 14 players after Anton van Zyl, playing against his former teammates, was yellow-carded.

When play restarted, the Province pack lost the services of lock Adriaan Fondse who was forced to leave the field with an injury and was replaced by New Zealander Chris Jack.

Even though Province continued to hold the upper hand and came really close to scoring through Chavhanga, it was the visitors who struck back with two Kruger penalties after rare visits into the opposition half (18-14).

Having to conceded six points against the run of play, it seemed to take the bite out of the Province attack and in the ensuing 10 minute spell they battled to break out of their half. More woe followed in the 57th minute when Kruger was on target with a penalty attempt close to the halfway line and suddenly Province’s 10-point lead had been reduced to one point (18-17).

This setback stung Province into a frenzied response and for several minutes the crowd of 21 250 were on their feet as attacks flew hard and fast on the Lions tryline.

However, Province did reap reward for their efforts with a Duane Vermeulen try in the 65th minute, and Pietersen goaled the conversion splendidly from the touchline (25-17).

The Lions showed some enterprise as they clawed their way back into the match and although they failed to advance their score it helped to keep Province quiet in their quest for a bonus point-try in th

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