Lions come from behind to beat Highlanders

The Lions had to come from behind in the second half but secured a 28-23 Super Rugby victory over the Highlanders at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Lions were trailing 3-20 at half time but outscored the Brumbies 25-3 in the second half to snatch the victory.

The result keeps the Lions in contention for the play offs as they move up to seventh place and one point behind the 6th placed team.

After being outscored two tries to nil during the opening half by the opportunist, clinical Highlanders, the Lions triumphed thanks to excellent ball retention, timely substitutions and tenacious defending.

It was the sixth victory in seven matches for the South Africans, who were written off as likely strugglers when the season began.

Defeat spoilt an impressive recent record by the Highlanders against South African opposition, having scored 87 points in home victories over the Stormers and Sharks.

Winger Courtnall Skosan, flanker Jaco Kriel and centre Harold Vorster scored a try each for the Lions on a cool, clear autumn evening in the South African economic capital.

Fly-half Elton Jantjies kicked two conversions and two penalties after replacing Marnitz Boshoff, who slotted a first-half penalty.

Flanker Gareth Evans and centre Malakai Fekitoa crossed the try-line for the Highlanders during an impressive first-half showing by the New Zealand south island side.

Fly-half Lima Sopoaga kicked two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal and full-back Ben Smith also slotted a drop goal.

After Boshoff kicked a long-range penalty on six minutes, Highlanders scored 20 unanswered points before the break.

Sopoaga equalised via a 22nd-minute penalty and put the Dunedin outfit ahead on the half hour with a drop goal.

A clever change of attacking direction by scrum-half Aaron Smith set up Evans to score and Fekitoa darted 60 metres to dot down when Highlanders secured turnover ball.

An inside break by Vorster played a key role in Skosan going over far out on 46 minutes and Jantjies converted only for Ben Smith to slot a drop goal.

But the remaining 28 minutes belonged to the Lions and, after scoring two more tries, they edged ahead 10 minutes from time via a Jantjies penalty.

Highlanders replaced Sopoaga with Marty Banks, but it was rival playmaker Jantjies who had the final say with another penalty three minutes from time.

Next week the Lions host Australian franchise the Brumbies in Johannesburg while the Highlanders head to Bloemfontein to take on the Cheetahs.

Final Score Lions 28 (3) Highlanders 23 (20)



Tries – Skosan, Kriel, Vorster
Pen – Jantjies 2, Boshoff
Con – Jantjies 2
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Evans, Fekitoa
Pen – Sopoaga
Con – Sopoaga 2
Drop – Sopoaga, B Smith
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Ref 1:Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2:Rodney Boneparte
TMO : Johan Greeff



15. Andries Coetzee , 14. Ruan Combrinck , 13. Harold Vorster , 12. Alwyn Hollenbach , 11. Courtnall Skosan , 10. Marnitz Boshoff , 9. Ross Cronje , 8. Warren Whiteley (c) , 7. Warwick Tecklenburg , 6. Jaco Kriel , 5. Franco Mostert , 4. Andries Ferreira , 3. Julian Redelinghuys , 2. Robbie Coetzee , 1. Schalk van der Merwe

Replacements : 16. Armand van der Merwe , 17. Jacques van Rooyen , 18. Ruan Dreyer , 19. Robert Kruger , 20. Ruaan Lerm , 21. Faf de Klerk , 22. Elton Jantjies , 23. Howard Mnisi


1. Kane Hames , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Josh Hohneck , 4. Tom Franklin , 5. Mark Reddish , 6. Gareth Evans , 7. Dan Pryor , 8. Nasi Manu (c) , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Patrick Osborne , 12. Richard Buckman , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Ben Smith (c)

Replacements :16. Ash Dixon , 17. Brendon Edmonds , 18. Ross Geldenhuys , 19. Elliot Dixon , 20. John Hardie , 21. Fumiaki Tanaka , 22. Marty Banks , 23. Jason Emery

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