Johannesburg – The Golden Lions held off a strong Western Province attack, thanks to the kicking boot of flyhalf Elton Jantjies, as they bagged a 26-23 victory in their Currie Cup match at Ellis Park on Saturday night.
Jantjies was successful with seven penalty conversions, and his final kick in the dying moments proved the decisive blow to Province.
The visitors stunned the hosts in the opening minutes of the match as they romped to a 10-0 lead after 13 minutes.
Province, employing a more expansive game plan than the Stormers did in the Super Rugby competition, crossed the whitewash nine minutes into the match.
They took the ball through a number of phases with some great interplay, leading to winger Gerhard van den Heever’s try.
Centre Juan de Jongh played a pivotal role in the lead-up to the try as he pierced the Lions’ defences with an injection of pace and side stepping.
Eighthman Duane Vermeulen, returning after a long injury layoff, made the final pass to Van den Heever who scored the try, with flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis converting.
Four minutes later Catrakilis succeeded with a penalty conversion to stretch their lead to 10 points.
Jantjies scored his side’s first points of the match with a penalty conversion in the 15th minute.
The hosts, however, still looked flat-footed as they battled to get possession to launch any kind of attack.
They finally seemed to kick on as Josh Strauss scored their first five-pointer of the evening after the side found some positive momentum.
Jantjies, in superb form, made a well weighted pass to Strauss who bashed his way towards the tryline and had to stretch to place the ball for the try.
While the Lions' playmaker flyhalf missed the conversion kick, he made up for the mistake shortly before the half-time break to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.
Jantjies continued his fine place kicking after the break as he added another penalty conversion to extend his team’s lead to four points.
His opposite number replied with a conversion kick of his own to reduce the deficit to a point once again.
As both sides’ defences held strong, it turned into a kicking duel between the two flyhalves, with Jantjies receiving the most opportunities at the posts.
He succeeded with two more penalties within two minutes to hand his side a seven-point lead, but Catrakilis kept Province within striking distance with his last penalty conversion of the match.
After Jantjies again extended the lead to seven points, Western Province struck a massive blow with prop Brock Harris powering his way over the line after Lions prop CJ van der Linde was yellow-carded for infringing metres from their own tryline.
Catrakilis converted to level the scores but his counterpart had the final say of the match.
Lions captain JC Janse van Rensburg made a bold call for a scrum on the halfway line rather than kicking for the posts.
His decision, however, paid off as the side progressed closer to the tryline where they received a penalty, which gave Jantjies an easier kick for victory.
Jantjies obliged as his shot was on target to give the Lions their second win of the campaign.
Scorers: Lions 26 (11): Tries: Joshua Strauss. Penalties:
Western Province 23 (10): Tries: Gerhard van den Heever, Brock Harris. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalties: Catrakilis (3). – Sapa