JOHANNESBURG - In a match where defence wasn’t part of the deal, 14 tries were scored in a highly entertaining affair as the Lions triumphed first up against Griquas at Ellis Park on Friday night.
It was new coach Ivan van Rooyen’s first game in charge of the Lions while regular boss Swys de Bruin is on Springbok duty and his team delivered magnificently as they won at the first time of asking in this year’s Currie Cup competition.
The Lions bagged all five points on offer after running in a whopping nine tries, while Griquas, who started their campaign with a loss to the Pumas in week one, scored five tries, but were ultimately out-played on the night.
The two big stars for the home team were Springbok wing Courtnall Skosan, who got a hat-trick of tries, while flyhalf Shaun Reynolds contributed 17 points with the boot. Rookie loose-forward Hacjivah Dayimani, who also played Super Rugby earlier this year, impressed with his work-rate and pace around the field and scored a brace of tries.
In a tight first half where no team really got the better of the other, the Lions scored three tries to the Griquas’ two but trailed 19-20 at the break. The game then opened up after half-time with both teams giving the ball plenty of air and running at each other from all parts of the park. The Lions streaked ahead after tries by Sylvian Mahuza, Len Massyn and Skosan to lead 43-20 before 60 minutes were up, but Griquas hit back with tries by Wilmar Arnoldi and Kyle Steyn.
Replacement Lions back, SA Under-20 star Wandesile Simelani, who scored after showing great pace after a strong hand-off of a Griquas player, Dayimani and Skosan though crossed in the latter stages of the contest to make sure the Lions got off to the perfect start in this year’s competition.
Van Rooyen would have been pleased with what he saw from his charges, even though the number of tries let in would have been of some concern. The same can be said of Griquas boss Peter Engledow, who would have enjoyed watching his team take on the 2015 champions, but their defence left much to be desired.
With the competition a six-match shoot-out between seven teams and Griquas having already lost twice they are fighting a big battle to make the playoffs. The Lions though are looking good, just one game in.
Lions (19) 62
Tries: Dayimani (2), Cronje, Skosan (3), Mahuza, Massyn, Simelane; Conversions: Reynolds (7); Penalty: Reynolds
Griquas (20) 41
Tries: Swarts, Mkhafu, Arnoldi, Steyn, Coertzen; Conversions: Whitehead (5); Penalties: Whitehead (2)