Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour 2014

at the Union Buildings in Pretoria

Lions start pre-season with easy win

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iol spt jan 25 lions

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To be fair, the Lions played without close to a dozen of their stalwarts.

Johannesburg - The Lions’ 52-14 victory over the NWU-Pukke team in a warm-up rugby match in Kempton Park on Friday, will have given coach Johan Ackermann plenty to think about.

Ackermann is faced with whittling down his squad ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season starting on February 15.

While the Lions played two different teams either side of the break, which did not help in creating any kind of consistency, they hardly produced anything special.

To be fair, the Lions played without close to a dozen of their stalwarts, and the match was a trial of sorts for the players to stake a claim for a place in the Super Rugby squad.

They scored eight tries. The students got two five-pointers past their more renowned opponents.

The first-half Lions' side scored four tries without conceding, with flyhalf Willie du Plessis and centre Stefan Watermeyer the standout players.

The Johannesburg-based side were solid with their rolling mauls, and there was some good interplay between the ball carriers.

The match also experimented with an extra referee on the field, and the two officials complemented each other well, which ultimately allowed for fewer stoppages.

The centre combination of Watermeyer and JW Jonker were the Lions’ most prolific try-scorers, each adding a brace to the score sheet.

The Lions scored three minutes into the match, with Watermeyer crossing the whitewash, before Courtnall Skosan showed some ingenuity six minutes later for the second try of the night.

Skosan launched an attack from within his half, kicking the ball ahead, fielding it, then offloading to Jonker, who gave the ball back to the wing to score.

Du Plessis showed his ability with the ball in hand in the 20th minute, when he made a break in the Pukke team’s 22, offloading in the tackle to lead to Jonker’s first try.

At the half-time break, Ackermann rang the changes, sending a new backline onto the field while he gradually introduced the fresh forward legs.

It proved to be a half for the forwards, as they contributed three of the Lions’ second-half tries, with Bees Roux opening their account.

However, Pukke made the first move of the half, with Gerhard Nortier scoring his side’s first five-pointer.

While the Lions’ forwards scored the most tries, the second-half backline showed greater intent on attack, with Lionel Mapoe and young flyhalf Jaco van der Walt throwing caution to the wind.

Pukke wing Sylvian Mahuza showed off his impressive turn of speed, running circles around the Lions' defence to score late in the second half.

The Lions nevertheless had the last say in the match, when Lambert Groenewald scored for his side to bring up their 50 points in the match.

Scorers: Lions 52 (28): Tries: Courtnall Skosan, JW Jonker (2), Stefan Watemeyer (2), Lambert Groenewald, Bees Roux, Ruaan Lerm. Conversions: Willie du Plessis (4), Jaco van der Walt (2).

Pukke 14 (0): Tries: Gerhard Nortier, Sylvian Mahuza. Conversions: Tiaan Dorfling, SW Oosthuizen. - Sapa


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