Lions shoot to the top with Cheetahs victory

The Golden Lions went provisionally to the top of the Currie Cup standings when they smashed the Free State Cheetahs 23-38 in Bloemfontein.


The Johannesburg based side beat the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last week and now the win in the City of Roses gives them even more momentum before they play the Sharks next week at Ellis Park.


The visitors’ fly half Elton Jantjies was one of the Lions stalwarts, specially with his kicking boot. He kicked seven goals out of nine attempts and contributed 18 points – three conversions and four penalties – in his side’s victory over the hosts.


Jantjies kicked the Lions first penalty as early as the first minute and followed it with another three points shortly thereafter to punish the Cheetahs for their initial poor discipline. The Lions themselves also infringed and winger Nico Scheepers brought the Cheetahs back into contention with his kicking boot.


The visitors got the first try when big lock Franco van der Merwe intercepted against the run of play to give his side their first five pointer. Jantjies kicked the conversion to leave the Lions with good momentum.


However, the Cheetahs got back within striking distance when prop Marcel van der Merwe scored from a good rolling maul by the home side. Scheepers converted to add to the three penalties he kicked earlier.


The Lions had the last say in the first stanza when winger Ruan Combrink dived over for his five pointer in the 39th minute. Jantjies converted to leave the visitors leading 20-16 at the break.


The Lions took off again as the second half commenced and winger Deon Heldberg ran through the Cheetahs defence for his converted try. Van der Merwe got sin binned in the 50th minute for a professional foul and that left the Lions to regroup. But the hosts struggled to take advantage and instead conceded another couple of penalties which Jantjies slotted with ease.


In the last 15 minutes the Cheetahs came with a huge fightback, but struggled to find space in the Lions’ solid defensive structures.


The Cheetahs later got some good momentum which the Lions tried to counter, but prop Van der Merwe was again too strong to stop close to the line and scored his second try of the evening. Scheepers converted to leave the Cheetahs ten points adrift in as many minutes.


But it just wasn’t the Cheetahs night, as Combrink again went over in the corner to give the Lions back-to-back bonus point victories, with the defending champions on course to retain of their title.


Final Score Free State Cheetahs 23 Golden Lions 38


Scorers


Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Marcel van der Merwe (2)
Conversions: Nico Scheepers (2)
Penalties: Scheepers (3).


Golden Lions
Tries: Franco van der Merwe, Ruan Combrink (2), Deon Heldberg
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3)
Penalties: Jantjies (4).


Teams


Free State Cheetahs


15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Nico Scheepers, 13. Robert Ebersohn (Captain) 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Tewis du Bruyn, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Hendro Scholtz, 7. Lappies Labuschagne, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen (Vice Captain), 4. Francois Uys, 3. Marcel van der Merwe, 2. Hercu Liebenberg, 1. Schalk van der Merwe.


Replacements:16. Elandre Huggett, 17. Ross Geldenhuys, 18. Carl Wegner, 19. Davon Raubenheimer, 20. Sias Ebersohn, 21. Phillip Snyman, 22. Rayno Benjamin


Golden Lions


15 Andries Coetzee , 14 Deon Helberg , 13 Lionel Mapoe , 12 Alwyn Hollenbach , 11 Ruan Combrinck , 10 Elton Jantjies , 9 Michael Bondesio , 8 Warren Whiteley , 7 Willie Britz , 6 Cobus Grobbelaar , 5 Franco Van der Merwe , 4 Hendrik Roodt , 3 acobie Adriaanse , 2 Callie Visagie , 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c)


Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku , 17 Ruan Dreyer , 18 Etie

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