Golden Lions remain unbeaten in Currie Cup

The Lions held on to their unbeaten status in the Currie Cup after they beat the Cheetahs 17-10 at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.

The Lions have now played five Currie Cup matches and won five and lead the Currie Cup standings.

The Lions did however survive a brave fightback from the Cheetahs in the closing
stages as their record came under threat.

The men from Bloemfontein were trailing 17-3 with less than 15 minutes remaining
in the match to come within inches of levelling the scores in the final minutes
of the match.

Both sides only managed to score one try in the tensely contested catfight
and the difference proved to be the accuracy of their respective goal kickers.

For the Lions, flyhalf Elton Jantjies not only enjoyed a far more consistent
performance when kicking at goal, his general play was of impeccable standard
while he also delivered a stand-out performance in defence.

Cheetahs pivot Sias Ebersohn received far less front foot ball and his goal-kicking
was not as impressive as it usually is.

With the victory, the Lions retained their status as the only unbeaten side
in the competition and after five rounds they are still sitting comfortably
at the top of the log.

The Johannesburg squad last started the Currie Cup competition with five victories
in a row in the 1997 season.

The Cheetahs’ best chance of the first half came just seconds after the start,
when eighthman Ashley Johnson nearly snatched the ball from unsuspecting Lions
defenders inside their own in-goal area.

The Lions showed good structure in defence, although they were very fortunate
to only concede three points after the match got underway in such frantic fashion.

Ebersohn’s first shot at goal was a good one, but it took the men from Johannesburg
less than three minutes to level the scores with an equally good conversion
by Jantjies.

With formalities a thing of the past, the Lions started marching closer to
the Cheetahs territory.

Getting over the advantage line was, however, not an easy task and the rate
of turnovers were very high with Cheetahs prop Coenie Oosthuizen in impressive
form at the tackle area.

The physicality the sides brought to the match was as intense as most pundits
predicted it would be.

Some of the clashes Johnson and Lions skipper Joshua Strauss were involved
in would have been appreciated at Test level.

Although the Cheetahs defended extremely well, it was the Lions who provided
most of the entertainment with their explosive backline runners.

The decision to shift Lionel Mapoe from wing to centre gave the Johannesburg
side a new dimension on attack while Jaco Taute impressed in his return to the
starting line-up.

It took the home side 27 minutes to score the first try of the night through
wing Michael Killian who managed to finish in style.

The winger ran onto a pass from Taute, in a backline move that had been drilled-in
on the training field.

Costly handling errors prevented the Cheetahs from building momentum while
the fact that Ebersohn missed penalties either side of the break did not help
their cause either.

Eventually fullback Riaan Smit was asked to take over the kicking duties, but
he too botched up what should have been three easy points.

In the meantime the Lions kept building on the 8-3 lead they had at half-time
and with 15 minutes left to play, they were ahead 17-3.

Jantjies and scrumhalf Michael Bondesio controlled the game well, but the Free
State squad never gave up and were eventually rewarded with a try by replacement
Tewis de Bruyn in the 72nd minute.

Then came the late surge, but the drama did not end there as the television
match official’s services were called in.

Oosthuizen’s drive o

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