Lions claw their way to draw
Elton Jantjies (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The Golden Lions staged a miraculous comeback to draw 31-31 (half-time 10-25) with Western Province in their Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions scored four tries and took three log points from the game, while Western Province had to be content with just two points.
But the Lions seemed to have no hope of taking anything from the game in a first half which was totally dominated by Western Province.
The Lions turned over possession in the face of the visitors' aggressive defence, which led to opportunities out wide for Western Province, where they had plenty of quality, especially in the form of highly-promising SA U20 star Cheslin Kolbe.
Kolbe made the running for the opening try by centre Damian de Allende and then scored one himself as Western Province raced into a 15-0 lead in 14 minutes.
The Lions were eventually on the board through a Marnitz Boshoff penalty in the 24th minute, but Western Province struck back with their third try five minutes later, by hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, which came after a scrum penalty had been kicked to touch.
The Lions claimed their first try with five minutes of the first half remaining when Deon Helberg crossed the line.
The home side opened the second half with a controversial penalty try after TMO Willie Roos ruled De Allende had prevented a try from being scored by Boshoff in the left corner. De Allende dived in to stop the ball from being grounded, but Roos seemed to be the only person in the stadium who thought a ruck had formed on the tryline.
Coleman briefly lifted the ailing visitors with another penalty but replacement flank Jaco Kriel raced clear on a spectacular run from his own 22 and made it all the way to the Western Province 22, flyhalf Elton Jantjies then ghosting his way over for the try from the subsequent ruck.
Centre Juan de Jongh was extremely fortunate not to be yellow-carded as he came from an offsides position and picked up the ball on the Lions' side of the ruck, but Kriel again carried the ball strongly after the penalty had been kicked to touch for a lineout, and fellow flank and captain Derick Minnie then muscled his way over the tryline.
Boshoff slotted his fifth successive kick at goal and the Lions had the lead for the first time, 31-28, with nine minutes remaining.
And then they showed their defensive prowess as they held Western Province away from their tryline with ferocious commitment.
Eventually they did not release the tackled player in a ruck and Coleman was presented with an easy penalty with just a minute remaining in the match.
The 25-year-old Coleman slotted the kick and Western Province were relieved to come away from Ellis Park with two points.
Golden Lions - Tries: Deon Helberg, penalty try, Elton Jantjies, Derick Minnie. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (4). Penalty: Boshoff.
Western Province - Tries: Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Tiaan Liebenberg. Conversions: Kurt Coleman (2). Penalties: Coleman (4). Sapa
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Robert
De Bruyn, 12 Dylan Des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9
Guy Cronje, 8 Lambert Groenewald, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Warwick
Tecklenburg, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Willie Britz, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2
Willie Wepener, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 JJ Breet, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Andries Coetzee.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever,
13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt
Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie
(c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tiaan
Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Substitutes: 16 Scarra
Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20
Louis Schreuder, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 Michael van der Spuy.