JOHANNESBURG – It was a 13-try festival of rugby as the Golden Lions and Griquas threw the ball around with gay abandon at Ellis Park on Saturday, with the home side emerging 48-43 victors in the end.
The Lions scored seven of the best to secure a bonus-point win, but the men from Kimberley didn’t leave empty-handed as they dotted down six times to claim a bonus as well.
There was a late flurry from Griquas as they chased an unlikely win after replacement loose forward Renier Botha crashed over with four minutes to go, but the Lions managed to hold on for the win.
There wasn’t much attention paid to defence during the game, though, as both teams managed to produce tries with their forwards and backs.
The scoring spree began as early as the fourth minute when a five-metre lineout drive by the Lions saw them rumble over the whitewash, but just when it looked like the ball was held up, hooker Pieter Jansen made sure of the grounding.
It was end-to-end stuff in the opening few minutes as Griquas hit back with a touchdown of their own from a driving maul that was stopped, but livewire scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer darted around the ruck and held off two defenders to score.
But arguably the most impressive player on the day, Lions No 9 Dillon Smit, showed the kind of speed he is known for as he took a quick tap and broke through the heart of a disorganised Griquas defence, and fed centre Jacques Nel for the third try of the match inside 12 minutes.
That was how the game flowed, with the second quarter seeing five more tries – three to the Lions and two to Griquas.
The last of those, though, came right at halftime, with a comical passage of play seeing Griquas flyhalf George Whitehead intercept a pass and then have his next pass intercepted by Smit.
The ball quickly went to hard-running Lions fullback Jaco van der Walt, who bumped off three tacklers for the five-pointer.
Flyhalf Shaun Reynolds slotted the conversion, and it put the Lions 33-24 in front at the break and allowed them some breathing space.
The home team took the game away from Griquas early in the second half when powerful right wing Madosh Tambwe got a double.
In the first try, the Lions found their rhythm and put together over 25 phases with ball-in-hand, and while Griquas gave away a few penalties, a cross-kick saw Tambwe tap the ball down to Van der Walt, who returned the ball to the young flyer to score.
Just a few minutes later, Tambwe ranged up behind a backline move off a lineout and broke the line, showing tremendous pace to outflank the cover defence, and the Lions were suddenly 45-24 ahead.
While Griquas kept in touch with two tries within five minutes by wings Ederies Arendse and Enver Brandt, the Lions did enough in the last 20 minutes to hold on to a nine-point lead at 45-36.
That was until the late Botha try with a few minutes to go, but the hosts consolidated on defence to close out the game as Reynolds knocked over a penalty after the hooter.
Golden Lions 45 (33): Tries: Pieter Jansen, Jacques Nel, Jarryd Sage, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Jaco van der Walt, Madosh Tambwe (2). Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (5). Penalty: Reynolds (1).
Griquas 43 (24): Tries: Christiaan Meyer (2), George Whitehead, Ederies Arendse, Enver Brandt, Renier Botha. Conversions: Whitehead (5). Penalty: Whitehead (1).
African News Agency (ANA)