at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Johannesburg – The Golden Lions secured yet another narrow victory, beating the Valke 23-22 in their Vodacom cup northern section match at Ellis Park.
Last week, it was a last-gasp penalty by flyhalf Guy Cronje which gave the Lions a 18-16 win over the Leopards XV after having had to play catch-up.
The Lions, who trailed 5-10 at half-time, were unsettled by the ferocity of the Valke attack at the collisions and at the breakdown, and they were forced to scramble a defence until they were opened up in the fifth minute and wing Kyle Hendricks broke through.
A conversion, followed by a penalty five minutes later, put the Valke up 10-0.
The Lions were let down by their poor handling and ill-discipline which ended whatever chances they had, until they used their power in the forwards to drive upfield.
The Lions twice turned down opportunities to take three points from penalties, when poor execution from the lineouts held them back.
The Lions eventually got on to the scoreboard two minutes before the break when Cronje threw a skip pass to centre Willie du Plessis, unmarked on the left wing.
Du Plessis and Angus Cleophas both punished the fragmented and error-ridden play with well-taken penalties, but the Valke stayed ahead at 19-11 with 18 minutes to go.
After Du Plessis had pushed visitors back with a long touch-finder, the Valke overthrew their lineout and No Ruaan Lerm was on hand to collect and go over the line from five metres.
That gave the Lions the heart to continue attacking, and they were rewarded when the forwards took the ball into the Valke red zone and quick hands along the line ended with Anthony Volmink touching down.
Cronje again showed coolness under pressure to nail the conversion.
The Valke will be disappointed, after having been well beaten by the Pumas last week, to let such an opportunity slip by. The Lions, on the other hand, will be breathing another sigh of relief.
SCORERS: GOLDEN LIONS – Tries: Willie du Plessis, Ruaan Lerm, Anthony Volmink. Conversion: Guy Cronje. Penalties: Du Plessis (2).
VALKE – Try: Kyle Hendricks.
Conversion: Cecil Dumond. Penalties: Dumond (2), Cleophas (3). – Sapa