Jo Hanko de Villiers (C) of the Lions challenged by Huw Jones (L) and Robert du Preez (R) of the Western Province during the 2017 Currie Cup rugby at Ellis Park Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Lions (10) 29
Tries: Mahuza, Dyantyi, Herbst, Janse van Rensburg; Conversions: Van der Walt (2), Davids; Penalty: Van der Walt
WP (17) 20
Tries: Carr, Du Preez; Conversions: Du Preez (2); Penalties: Du Preez (2)

Three tries in the final quarter – two of them coming in the final eight minutes – ensured an unlikely win for the Lions against Western Province here in the Currie Cup on Sunday afternoon.

The Lions were on the back foot for most of the clash, which was played in wet and unfavourable conditions, and only took the lead for the first time in the 72nd minute after Western Province had dominated much of the proceedings. The visitors will definitely be wondering how they they let this one get away.

The win means the Lions are still very much in the hunt to play in the semi-finals in two weeks’ time. They are fourth in the standings with 30 points, with Province second on 32 and the Cheetahs third with 31. The Sharks are out in front with 47. They will, however, still have to beat the Cheetahs in their final game on Saturday to ensure a semi-finals spot as the Bulls (27 points) and Pumas (26) play each other and one is likely to go past the Lions.

In a game that never reached any great heights on Sunday, with the heavy underfoot conditions leaving little chance for exciting, running rugby, both outfits tried their best though, but there were errors aplenty from the Lions and Province.

What was supposed to be another Currie Cup try-fest turned into a battle of the forwards and the boot, and it was the visitors who won that battle. Flyhalf Robert du Preez was exceptional in the conditions, kicking superbly out of hand and ensuring Province played most of their rugby in the Lions’ half of the field.

The young Lions team, with no less than seven U-21 players in the squad, did much better than expected against the far more experienced visitors, but some poor option-taking cost them dearly at times.

They dominated the early exchanges, spending most of the opening 10 minutes in Western Province territory, but they had nothing to show for their efforts. And it would have been something of a hammer blow when they looked at the scoreboard after 15 minutes to see they trailed the visitors 10-0. Du Preez had slotted an early penalty and Nizaam Carr scored a wonderful try after Huw Jones was stopped just short of the line.

The Lions though were soon back in the match following a penalty by Jaco van der Walt and a try by Sylvian Mahuza; the wing doing finishing off after being sent on his way by Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

But Western Province went back into the lead nine minutes before half-time when Du Preez ghosted past several Lions backs to score the simplest of tries, his conversion putting his team 17-10 up at the break.

And 10 minutes after half-time the visitors went 10 points ahead after a second Du Preez penalty. At that stage Western Province were in complete control of the match, playing the conditions perfectly and they looked well set to register a comfortable away win.

The Lions though had other plans. On 60 minutes wing Aphiwe Dyantyi did brilliantly to gather a poor pass and run through a lame Damian Willemse tackle attempt to score a wonderful try – very much against the run of play – to get his team back in the contest, and there was more still to come from the home side.

Boosted by the try, the Lions found some momentum - and territory – and scored further tries in the final eight minutes through replacement Rhyno Herbst and centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg to stun the men from the Cape.

IOL Sport

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