Lions bag bonus-point win in Perth
Cape Town - The Lions were made to work hard to defeat the Western Force in their Super Rugby encounter in Perth on Saturday.
The Lions won 24-15, after leading 14-9 at half-time.
The men from Johannesburg had to defend their lead for large parts of the second period, but their resolute defence held firm, before a late try after the hooter from flyhalf Elton Jantjies saw the Lions claim a bonus-point win, courtesy of scoring three more tries than their opponents.
It was apparent from the outset that the Lions were in Perth to pick up a maximum point haul as they twice snubbed kickable penalties and instead went for the corner. Eventually the early pressure told and Harold Vorster and Jantjies combined to send Lionel Mapoe over for a 7-0 lead.
Six minutes later though the Force hit back with a penalty from the reliable boot of Ian Prior and he doubled his tally soon after for 7-6.
The Lions remained unflustered as they were confident of picking up points via the tryline. And so it proved three minutes from the break when Skosan finished superbly down the left wing, with Jantjies' conversion equally as good. Suddenly the visitors were 14-6 in front.
Either side of the break the Force continued to chip away at the scoreboard, with Prior striking his third and fourth penalty of the game.
At 14-12 the match was certainly up for grabs but when the Force were caught off-side from a knock-on, Jantjies made it a five-point margin again. Unfortunately the contest then dipped in tempo coming up to the hour mark, with the Force looking to Jono Lance to lift their form.
The Force did enjoy the majority of possession and territory for the next 10 minutes, but scoring opportunities were few and far between until Prior struck once again off the tee, making it 17-15, which gave the supporters in Perth significant belief that a win was on the cards.
But that was as good as it got for the Force in the closing stages as it was in fact the Lions who were in the opposition red zone late on, turning down a penalty shot to instead go for the corner and the bonus-point. Eventually the third try came when Jantjies sliced through a hole before converting his own try for a hard-earned five points.
The win saw the Lions extend their lead atop the Africa Conference 2 standings.
They now have 37 points, 13 ahead of the Sharks who play the Jaguares in Argentina later on Saturday.
In next weekend's action, the Lions tackle the Rebels in Melbourne, while the Force travel to South Africa to duel the Sharks in Durban.
Penalties: Ian Prior (5)
Tries: Lionel Mapoe, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies
Conversions: Jantjies (3)
15 Marcel Brache, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Luke Burton, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Pek Cowan
Substitutes: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Onehunga Havilli, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Peter Grant
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink