JOHANNESBURG – The Lions may have been out-scored four-tires-to-three, but captain Ross Cronje felt his side produced old-style Lions rugby in their narrow 30-28 Currie Cup win against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
Exciting young fullback Tyrone Green scored what turned out to be the winning try in the 72nd minute after a solo run of 60 metres, to go with earlier tries by Ruben Schoeman and Pieter Jansen. Flyhalf Shaun Reynolds kicked superbly to convert all three tries and also three penalties to help the men from Joburg get across the line.
The Lions over-turned an 11-point deficit at one stage to register their second straight win, following their bye last week and their round one win against the Pumas, also a close one, 38-37 in favour of Ivan van Rooyen’s team.
Scrumhalf and captain Cronje said the Lions were again playing the kind of rugby that had brought them so much success in the last few years.
“It was a tough game, very physical. But, the guys also threw the ball around a bit, so there was also that flair element in an entertaining game.
“I feel we played the old type of Lions rugby, which was nice.”
The Lions have been forced to push a young side into the field during the Currie Cup following the departure of several seasoned men to Europe and Japan in recent times. Van Rooyen said he was already seeing good growth by the youngsters, among them Green, who got a taste of Super Rugby earlier this year.
“With youth you get creativity, fearlessness,” said the Lions boss. “I’d like to think there’s already been growth in the players since the start of the competition. I’m happy, and the players have got the reward for the work they have put in.
“I thought the game (on Saturday) was an awesome spectacle for the spectators; there was lots of excitement and a lot of ball-in-play.
“Shaun kicked so well, and I’m so pleased for him; he’s put in so much work,” said Van Rooyen.
The second successive win for the Lions moved them into third place on the points table with nine points, just one off the leaders, the Free State, and second placed Griquas, who also have 10 points.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” said Van Rooyen after the clash. “A lot of them played well and they showed some good character to fight until the end. We got lucky maybe, to be two points up after 80 minutes.”
Van Rooyen’s team have a short week this week as their round four game against the log leading Free State is in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.@jacq_west