14-man Lions the warriors as they crush Glasgow

Rabz Maxwane of Lions scored against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night. Backpagepix

Rabz Maxwane of Lions scored against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night. Backpagepix

Published May 18, 2024


Morgan Bolton

Emirates Lions (8) 44

Tries: Rabz Maxwane (2), Edwill van der Merwe, JC Pretorius, Sanele Nohamba, Hanru Sirgel; Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (3); Penalties: Hendrikse, Nohamba

Yellow Card: Ruan Venter, Francke Horn; Red Card: Venter

Glasgow Warriors (7) 21

Tries: Kyle Rowe, Euan Ferrie, Josh McKay; Conversions: George Horne (2), Dancan Weir

Ruan Venter will probably want to forget his outing against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday in a United Rugby Championship (URC) clash at Ellis Park as quickly as possible. He probably won’t want, one suspects, to see the face of Warriors No 10 Tom Jordan for quite some time, too.

He will have also left Doornfontein, Johannesburg, last night relieved and proud that his teammates refused to allow his sanction to define the outcome of the match.

An early substitution for Emmanuel Tshituka in the ninth minute, the 21-year-old saw only 14 minutes of action in a 24-minute stint. First, the warm-up routine still hot in his legs, he let the red mist take him after a hard but fair tackle, driving Jordan’s head into the pitch after the fact to be sent to the sin bin.

In the 35th minute, a clumsy tackle on Jordan saw their heads clash, Venter copping a straight red. To compound matters, Francke Horn also received a yellow card three minutes later, the hosts finishing the first half down to 13 men.

With Venter and Horn on the sidelines, there would have been concern as an eerie hush fell upon the die hard Lions fans collected at the Park. For despite the Lions holding a tentative 8-7 lead, an early second half try from Warriors flank Euan Ferrie to lead 14-8, created a sense that the visitors had only been biding their time, doing just enough to stay in the game to mount a full out assault in the latter stages of the match.

They had done so against the Bulls a week earlier, pushing the Lions’ northern neighbours hard in the second half to give them an almighty scare. Such shenanigans were then expected again this time around.

There was pre-match worry, too, for the Lions, with captain Marius Louw withdrawn before kick-off due to injury with a suspected knee injury. It gave Jordan Hendrikse the opportunity to start at inside-centre, alongside Gianni Lombard at 10 and Erich Cronje in the No 13 jersey; and handed Willem Alberts – in his last match at Ellis Park – the skipper’s armband.

The selection of Lombard in such an important match was heavily debated before the match, as the 26-year-old has had scant opportunity to play this season. He missed two early penalty attempts, the second a sitter in-front of the posts which unduly put his team under pressure in the first half, despite their advantage in territory and possession.

Lombard was just fine in general play, but certainly showed a lack of confidence and match-fitness. Nevertheless, he held his position manfully in the first half and was substituted for Sanele Nohamba in the 48th minute.

That is when the insanity truly began.

The Lions pushed into desperate action, scored four exceptional tries in a helter-skelter 15 minute period to stun the Warriors into a 36-14 changeover. Slick hands, powerful running and impressive attacking intent – starting around the 50th minute mark – saw Edwill van der Merwe, Rabz Maxwane, JC Pretorius and Nohamaba all dive over the tryline, with conversion following shortly after, to blow the visitors away.

Glasgow did manage to pull a score back with a hard-worked effort from fullback Josh McKay but the ferocity of the Lions during that period shattered their plans, their onslaught never materialising. Hanru Sirgel rounded off a fine 44-21 victory for the home side, the bonus point also secured, and the Lions alive and kicking in their goal to reach the quarter-finals of the URC.