JOHANNESBURG – If he announced himself on the Super Rugby stage with a two-try debut and man-of-the-match showing against the Sharks last week, Aphiwe Dyantyi wrote his name in bright neon colours at Ellis Park on Saturday with an even better – and fully mesmerising – showing on the left wing.
The 23-year-old, who a few years ago was considered too small to make rugby his career, lit up his home ground in another blistering performance that had Springbok written all over it as the Lions beat the Jaguares 47-27 at Ellis Park.
If he wasn’t scoring tries, Dyantyi was taking high balls out of the air and he was tackling like a seasoned pro.
In the end, it was Dyantyi’s two-try bonanza that sparked the Lions into life as they ran away with a contest that in the early stages looked like it may be a difficult one to get the better of for the two-time competition runners-up.
While the Lions bossed most areas, especially the scrums – again – they still showed some wobbles in the lineouts, with Malcolm Marx again missing his jumpers on a few occasions, while the handling wasn’t always what it should be at this level of the game.
Also in the first half, the home team lacked patience on the ball, often forcing passes and looking for offloads when they weren’t on.
It was a scrappy performance all-round, and perhaps the lack of anything special from the Jaguares led to the home team’s forgettable first 28 minutes.
The Jaguares, as expected, camped on the offside line and looked to play a big spoiling game, leading the Lions to over-eagerness at times and not protecting the ball as well as they should have.
After being rocked early by a try to wing Emiliano Boffelli, who also knocked over a 50m penalty after 18 minutes, the Lions found their mojo when Dyantyi took a long skip pass by Harold Vorster and stepped inside his opposite number to go over and get his team into the game.
Not long after that, referee Jaco Peyper awarded the home team a penalty try after Jaguares wing Bautista Delguy – who was yellow-carded for the incident – was deemed to have prevented the home team from scoring a probable try when he knocked down a pass by Warren Whiteley.
Andries Coetzee then went over on the stroke of halftime after being sent on his way by Lionel Mapoe – who for the second week running produced a masterclass in midfield – to help the home team into a commanding, if not solely convincing, 19-10 lead at the break.
After the resumption, the Lions upped the tempo and showed greater patience and they were duly rewarded.
First, right wing Sylvian Mahuza showed great pace to outstrip the visitors’ defence to score his first try of the season after being put away by Dyantyi in midfield and then Dyantyi himself got his second of the match – a try that will be remembered for a long time by the faithful fans.
The Lions attacked from deep in their own half and after receiving the ball on his own 10m line, he showed great pace to initially beat the first line of defence and then he stepped brilliantly off his left foot to leave Jaguares fullback Joachin Tuculet for dead, the try ending the visitors’ challenge and turning him into an instant hero.
Replacement back Rohan Janse van Rensburg then came on to get his name on the score-sheet as well with a well-taken try before the Jaguares, through Delguy, who got two tries in quick succession, hit back at the end.
The Lions though scored last, with Whiteley being rewarded for an excellent performance with a try in the 80th minute.
The performance of the Lions on the day won’t be remembered for much; rather, it is the showings of the likes of Dyantyi, Mahuza, Mapoe, Coetzee and Whiteley that will be talked about for a few weeks to come.
Lions 47 – Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi (2), Penalty Try, Andries Coetzee, Sylvian Mahuza, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Warren Whiteley. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5).
Jaguares 27 – Tries: Emiliano Boffelli, Bautista Delguy (2). Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez (3). Penalties: Boffelli (1), Sanchez (1).