Lions beat Cheetahs for second Currie Cup win

The Lions won only their second match of their Currie Cup campaign when they came from behind to beat the Free State Cheetahs 30-26 at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.


It was a well-deserved win with the home side standing their ground in the scrums, holding their lineout throws and often looking threatening on attack.


Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies was named Man of the Match after scoring 20 points, including a try, and succeeding with all six of his kicks at goal.


The win keeps the Lions in touch with the top four sides on the log, avoiding a loss that would have put an end to their semifinal aspirations.


The hosts went into the half-time break 13-9 ahead, and deserved their lead. They carried the ball more often than the Cheetahs, looked dangerous on a number of occasions, and crossed the line twice, although one try was rightly denied by the TMO.


The highlight of the first half was the immaculate chip by Jantjies two minutes before the break that was collected by right winger Deon van Rensburg to give the Lions the lead.


The home side showed greater patience at the breakdown than they have done in previous matches this season, but it remains a concern that they, like most South African sides, do not get the ball away quickly enough for an effective attack.


The Free State regained the lead less than four minutes into the second half after a sustained effort that ended in a five-metre scrum to the visitors, from where Ashley Johnson went over and Louis Strydom converted (16-13).


Another penalty by Strydom (19-13) and patient phase attack by the pack and the Free State backs seemed to have the Lions on the rack.


The hosts, however, survived despite the yellow-carding of young flanker Renaldo Bothma, who had a lively game in his first start.


The match then turned the Lions’ way. They attack and the drove and with Jantjies – who had a good game after some average handling early on – and captain Franco van der Merwe prominent in the sequence, that brought them close to a try heading into the last quarter.


The pressure produced some reward as Jantjies reduced the lead to 19-16 from a penalty with 17 minutes remaining, but six minutes later Cheetahs replacement prop Cobus Calldos seemed to have sealed the match with a converted try (26-16).


However, the Lions gained control in the following eight minutes, most of which was played in the Free State quarter.


Good patience, solid support and varied options kept them in control, eventually resulting in a try for Jantjies after prominent work from replacement flank Joshua Strauss.


With Jantjies converting from touch, where he had scored, the Lions were only three points behind when the death knell sounded for the visitors.


Michael Killian received form a maul following the restart, broke and kicked ahead. The ball eluded him, but replacement Jannie Boshoff picked up and went over, and again Jantjies did the trick from touch and the Lions held out to win.


Final Score Lions 30 Cheetahs 26


Scorers:


Lions:
Tries: Deon van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, Jannie Boshoff.
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3).
Penalties: Jantjies (3).


Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Ashley Johnson, Cobus Calldo.
Conversions: Louis Strydom (2).
Penalties: Strydom (4).

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