Having picked his strongest available team after the Southern Kings had come close to shocking the Sharks in Durban the week before, Lions coach Johan Ackermann got exactly what he wanted – five log points – as the visitors produced a clinical first-half performance in a 42-19 win in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
It was also the perfect “warm-up” for the big conference clash against the Sharks at Ellis Park next weekend.
The big star of the Lions performance was rookie wing Michael Tambwe, who scored two of his team’s six tries.
The Kings managed to dot down on three occasions in a performance that would have given their coach and supporters plenty to be encouraged about before their trip to
The Kings enjoyed the better of an error-strewn second half by the Lions, who managed to score just one converted try in the final, forgettable, 40 minutes.
The visitors, though, impressed with their ball-in-hand approach in the first 40 minutes, but Ackermann won’t be at all pleased with their total performance.
They lacked intensity after the halftime break, their handling was shoddy and their decision-making poor.
The home team contributed greatly to the match and they were never completely dominated by their more illustrious opponents. They competed strongly at the breakdowns while the outside backs, led by Malcolm Jaer, asked a number of questions of the Lions defence.
The Kings scored first, through flank Andisa Ntsila, who charged down an attempted clearance kick by Andries Coetzee, picked up the ball and scored to shock the Lions inside the first minute.
But from the restart the Lions hit back through Tambwe, who intercepted a poor pass by Kings No 8 Ruaan Lerm on his team’s own tryline, the 19-year-old wing scoring the easiest – and his first – Super Rugby try.
The Lions then took complete control of the match and in a flash they’d raced into a 21-7 lead with further tries by Malcolm Marx, from a driving maul, and Elton Jantjies, who finished off well after lock Franco Mostert had taken a quick tap penalty.
Against the run of play the Kings then scored arguably the try of the match, debutant wing Yaw Penxe dotting down after Ntsila had won an excellent turnover deep in his team’s own half and charged up-field before sending Penxe on his way.
The Lions though were always in control, and before the half was up, Tambwe got his second after Coetzee had made an excellent offload in the corner, and Jaco Kriel finished off from a second lineout drive.
Jaer got his team’s third try soon after the restart, the wing showing great pace to slip past several Lions defenders to score, but late on the Lions scored their sixth try through Harold Vorster in what was a second half of mistakes and uninspiring rugby by the Lions.
After a promising first half by both teams, the small crowd that turned up at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium would have left feeling cheated after the 80 minutes.
Kings 19 – Tries: Andisa Ntsila, Yaw Penxe, Malcolm Jaer. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (2).
Lions 42 – Tries: Michael Tambwe (2), Malcolm Marx, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Kriel, Harold Vorster. Conversions: Jantjies (5), Andries Coetzee (1).Independent Media