Johannesburg – The Lions dished up an impressive performance to beat the Cheetahs 33-17 in a warm-up match at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The loss would give Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske some food for thought ahead of this year's Super Rugby season as they were outwitted by a rampant Lions side that ran the ball from all corners of the field.
While Drotske did not field a full-strength side the Lions also made a number of changes from last week’s match against Russia.
There were some unforced errors early in the match with especially the Lions fumbling the ball in crucial areas of the field while hooker Swys du Toit also struggled to find his jumpers in the lineouts.
The Cheetahs' scrum would be a cause for concern with the Lions prop and captain JC Janse van Rensburg teaching Rossouw de Klerk a few lessons in the scrum in the opening stages of the match.
There were nevertheless some exciting moments in the match especially after the first 20 minutes when the two sides were still testing the waters.
The Bloemfontein-based side did not disappoint with their trademark expansive game plan as they attacked the line with fervor.
When they received go-forward ball they made good gains over the advantage line by merely spreading the ball through the hands.
Nine minutes into the match, the Cheetahs pierced the Lions’ defenses with outside centre JP Nel crossing the goal line, with flyhalf Francois Brummer converting.
The Cheetahs received a setback on the 20 minute mark with playmaker winger Raymond Rhule receiving a yellow card for a tip tackle.
The Lions capitalised on the advantage eight minutes later when Ruhan Nel scored for his side receiving a pass from flanker Jaco Kriel who made solid break. Fullback Marnitz Boshoff converted to equal the scores.
Four minutes later the Cheetahs took the lead once again as they spread the ball wide to Rhule, who trotted over the line.
The Cheetahs extended the lead eight minutes into the second half with fullback Hennie Daniller earning his five-pointer, with Boshoff converting to take the scores to 17-7.
The hosts then launched their fight back with impressive centre Stokkies Hanekom being the protagonist in their eventual victory.
Hanekom arguably scored the try of the match in the 54th minute as he chipped the ball over a Cheetahs defender and fielded to finish the move off with a dive over the line.
The Lions rolled with the momentum as winger Anthony Volmink scored their third try of the evening.
The home-side forced a turnover on their 22 with scrumhalf Michael Bondesio breaking on the blindside and grubbered the ball through for Volminck to field and finish off, with Boshoff converting.
The Lions added two more tries in the last 20 minutes of the match with flyhalf Lionel Cronje scoring from a Garyowen from Boshoff while Hanekom scored his brace in the 72nd minute to round-off an impressive performance.
Lions 33 (7): Tries: Ruhan Nel, Stokkies Hankom (2), Volminch, Cronje.
Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff (4).
Cheetahs 17 (12): Tries: JP Nel, Raymond Rhule, Hennie Daniller.
Conversion: Francois Brummer. – Sapa