Lions edge 13 man Reds team at the death

The Lions secured back to back victories in Super Rugby when they beat a 13-man Reds team 23-20 in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The Reds finished the match with two players in the sin bin and fell foul of referee Stuart Berry who consistently penalised the Reds in the closing stages of the match.

The Reds were leading 6-20 at half time but failed to add to their points in the second half while the Lions scored 17 unanswered points.

Initially, nothing seemed to go right for the Lions on the night as they made
a host of handling errors compared to the skilful attacking by the Reds.

Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper was the main instigator for his side as he kept the
Lions defence guessing and gave his team a 14-point lead going into the half-time
interval.

The unpredictable Cooper scored all of his side’s first-half points through
two converted tries and two penalty conversions.

The tourists were dominant at the breakdowns and the contact areas in general,
which gifted the fleet-footed Cooper with front-foot ball.

Cooper opened the scoring three minutes into the match with penalty conversions
before he got over the whitewash two minutes later.

Deon van Rensburg then spilt the ball in the tackle inside his 22 with the
Reds kicking the loose ball.

Cooper gathered, scoring and converting his own effort for a handy 10-0 lead
after only five minutes of action.

Despite the early disadvantage the Lions remained positive on attack as they
took the game to the visiting team.

The Lions suffered an early blow when seasoned campaigner, lock Franco van
der Merwe, left the field injured to be replaced by MB Lusaseni.

Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff got his side onto the score-sheet after 14 minutes
of play with a penalty conversion before Cooper responded two minutes later
with a three-pointer of his own.

Eight minutes before the half-time recess, Cooper struck again as he found
easy passage over the line when he stepped to the right and sold a weak dummy
for an open tryline.

Cooper converted his own effort which turned out to be his side’s last points
of the match.

Boshoff responded with a penalty for the hosts before half-time, as the Reds
led 20-6 at the interval.

The high altitude seemed to take its toll on the Reds in the second half as
they lacked the same intensity as in the first.

The Lions, in contrast, showed better intent in the second half and got the
rub of the green with some help from referee Stuart Berry.

Boshoff started the fightback with a penalty conversion in the 52nd minute
which seemed to supply the spark that was absent in the first half.

In the 65th minute, replacement centre Lionel Mapoe found the breakthrough
for the Lions when he received the ball from a lateral running Faf de Klerk
to score with a Reds player on his back.

Matters soon went from bad to worse for the visitors in the last 10 minutes
of the match, when James Hanson was shown a yellow card in the 70th minute before
Jake Schatz joined him in the sin-bin four minutes later.

Three minutes from time Courtnall Skosan dove over the line to put his side
a point ahead of the visitors although there was no clear grounding and James
Horwill pleaded with Berry to look at the line out as he felt it was not straight
the line out was not looked at and the try was awarded.

Boshoff added the extra two points to finish the scoring before the Reds finished
with a final flurry into the Lions half with 13 men but the match ended when
Berry blew his whistle saying that the Reds had lost the ball forward.

Final Score Lions 23 (6) Reds 20 (20)

Scorers

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