Pumas give Lions a scare in Currie Cup opener

The Golden Lions held-off a spirited Pumas side to win their Currie Cup opener 31-27 in Johannesburg on Friday.

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse this week made it clear that they would come to Johannesburg with a point to prove against their franchise partners for not selecting any of their players for the Super Rugby season.

They proved their point for most of the match but couldn’t keep their composure against a second-half Lions resurgent.

The Pumas stuck to the basics which worked well for them in securing quick ball and gave their dangerous backline enough possession to express their creativity.

The Lions drew first blood through the boot of flyhalf Burton Francis who converted a penalty shortly after the start of the match.

The visitors levelled the scores minutes later thanks to a drop goal by Pumas flyhalf Ricardo Croy after the team could not penetrate the Lions’ defences.

The Lions took the lead once again when prop Jacobie Adriaanse bore his way over the tryline.

Francis converted to give his side a seven point lead 16 minutes into the first-half.

The Pumas replied with a try by wing Ashwin Scott with a quarter gone in the first half.

The Mpumalanga team floated the ball wide to JW Jonker who accelerated away from the defenders, then popped the ball to Scott who managed to score in the corner with little space to spare.

Francis once more succeeded with a penalty goal to hand his side the lead for the second time in the match.

The Pumas, however, came back with a vengeance with Scott playing an integral part in their second try of the match.

The wing thwarted a tackle attempt from Dylan des Fountain then sold a dummy to Cobus Grobelaar, then offloaded to Pieter Engelbrecht who darted through to score under the posts.

After the conversion the Pumas led the game by four points with seven minutes left in the half.

As the first-half drew to a close Francis converted another penalty to bring his side within one point going into the half-time break.

The second half started with Pumas lock forward Marius Coetzer trotting through for his side’s second try after ripping the ball from a Lions player at the ruck with the tryline opening in front of him.

This shocked the Lions and their supporters into a lull but the silence was soon broken with Francis added a try to his score sheet.

Francis scored from a gifted pass by Pumas scrumhalf Shaun Venter and made a sprint of over 50 metres to claim his five-pointer.

He converted his own try to bring the Lions within one point of the Pumas.

Three minutes later the Lions took the lead thanks to a Francis penalty conversion but then relinquished the lead after a Croy successful attempt at goal.

The tide finally turned in the Lions favour with eleven minutes to go in the game when Lions centre Alwyn Hollenbach scored on the right-hand corner.

Francis converted to give them a four-point lead which they hung on to for dear life.

Final Score Lions 31 Pumas 27


Tries: Jacobie Adriaanse, Burton Francis, Alwyn Hollenbach
Conversions: Burton Francis (2)
Penalties: Francis (4)

Tries: Ashwin Scott, Pieter Engelbrecht, Marius Coetzer
Conversions: Ricardo Croy (3)
Penalties: Croy (2)


Lions :

Jaco Taute, Dylan des Fountain, Alwyn Hollenbach, Doppies la Grange (captain), Lionel Mapoe, Burton Francis, Jano Vermaak, Joshua Strauss, Derick Minnie, Franco van der Merwe, Wikus van Heerden, Jacobie Adriaanse, Bandise Maku, Pat Cilliers.

Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Caylib Oosthuizen, Johan Snyman, Dries van Schalkwyk, Michael Bondesio, Hein Cronje, Michael Killian.


MJ Mentz, Deon Scholtz, JW

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