Jozi jive: Lions rout doubters

2011-10-29 22:52

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Better get a bucket ... I am so bloated from humble pie that I feel like Mr Creosote on the brink of his notorious gastric eruption in the Monty Python movie.

Gallery: Lions win the Currie Cup

Highlights: Currie Cup final

It was my wonderfully scientific suggestion ahead of the Absa Currie Cup final that the Sharks, fuelled by their phalanx of pneumatic-drill Springboks, would simply prove too strong for the Golden Lions and even retain the trophy at Coca-Cola Park with a bit to spare.

Well, that was about as wrong as I have been in a sporting forecast ... I certainly hope that broad expanse of error will not too quickly be eclipsed.

In fact, I’m liable for a double whammy of misguided thought because I had similarly anticipated a week ago that Josh Strauss’s largely unsung bunch of workhorses would not even overcome the hurdle of Western Province, similarly fielding several returning internationals, in the semis.

Instead, we all witnessed on Saturday evening arguably one of the best and most passionate instances in Currie Cup history of a team winning it not so much because they had the staffing to do so but because they “wanted it” with all their hearts.

As vice-captain Doppies la Grange so succinctly put it after the 42-16 feat (it was every bit that): “We’re just a bunch of ordinary guys working together.”

Make that a bunch of everyday blokes clearly also extremely competently coached – I would not be too surprised if the honchos at SA Rugby revisit for a few moments the thought of cheekily inquiring whether John Mitchell’s arm may yet be twisted in connection with the soon-to-be-vacant Bok job.

There will be rugby-related bedlam in the Big Smoke for the first time in a dozen years, and it will be wholly justifiable, given the Lions’ mastery on the log pretty much since the opening round in mid-July, when they got a mighty scare at home to the Pumas but narrowly overcame it and only prospered from there.

Having done the honourable grovel thing, let me suggest that not even the most ardent – make that long-suffering, too -- of Lions supporters would have budgeted on their waltzing in (Strauss waltz, geddit?) by as many as 26 points against a team hugely eclipsing them for collective Test caps.

In doing so, they achieved the most lopsided score-line in a final since 1980, when Northern Transvaal trounced Western Province at Loftus 39-9 after the visitors’ captain Morne du Plessis pulled out injured on the day of the match and 21-year-old rookie Charlie Marais had to suddenly fill his prestigious boots for an ultimately harrowing debut at No 8.

And as they had done all season, a commitment to a most genuine team ethic was primarily responsible for the Lions winning -- and even managing it with some style and swagger as it became apparent that opponents more like a “Barcelona” for presence of superstar individuals were going to be beaten off.

SuperSport pundit and former Bok flyhalf Joel Stransky got it right when he said: “It’s so difficult to pick a man of the match from this Lions team.”

In the end the diminutive Lions No 10, Elton Jantjies, was a perfectly credible recipient, only doing wonders on such a red-letter day to his chances of becoming the country’s pick in the position next season or beyond.

The young man from Graaff Reinet kicked his goals with Teutonic precision, not for the first time this year, but his general play was wonderful at times too ... he was instrumental in set-up work via deft, bamboozling footwork for at least one of the three Lions tries.

There have been periods when -- as has been the case with so many young sportsmen -- he is suspected to have fallen prey to believing his own press a tad too much and losing some drive, but a steel-eyed focus and devotion to duty has returned in recent weeks with a vengeance.

Such was the Lions’ bloody-minded desire to put the cherry on top of their wonderfully consistent domestic campaign that they gradually turned drawbacks into strengths over the course of the 80 memorable minutes – a notable example being the scrums, where they took much early trauma from the all-international Sharks front row but stabilised with some zeal and even had the satisfaction of seeing the likes of Beast Mtawarira penalised a few times for technical errors at the set-piece toward the end.

The Sharks had plenty of ball, and good tracts of territory in stages as well, and may well be scratching their heads as to how they managed to play second fiddle to such a gory extent on the board.

Maybe one or two of their World Cup returnees were just not as “amped” as they needed to have been for the final.

Either that or they just found the Lions’ all-embracing gusto, and a spirit and cohesion forged over many weeks and months, just too hard to repel on the day.

Now, back to that infernal cold pie for me ...


  • colin.dovey - 2011-10-29 23:18

    THAT was an awesome match! Josh Strauss should be in line for Springbok selection next year...and dare I say it? Springbok Captain further down the line? It was a higher quality game than the RWC final, and well reffed as well.

      Citroes - 2011-10-30 00:50

      Disagree on the reffing. Mark Lawrence made some appalling decisions, most notably the Sharks try which came off a clear knock on. There was also the incident where Beast popped Pat Cillliers in the scrum which happened right in front of Lawrence, which is at least a penalty, but probably a yellow for dangerous play to the Beast. Those were the 2 major ones, but there were more.

      Walter - 2011-10-30 07:15

      I go with the remark that Josh Strauss will someday (near?) in the future, captain the 'Boks. He's a great No. 8 and deserves recognition. Insofar as reffing is concerned, Mawrence and the line judge may very well have thought the ball came of a Lion's hand or a knee. He has to ref it as he sees it. I do agree that Beast shouldn've been yellow carded. The replay clearly showed that he forced Cilliers upward and that's dangerous. I am an avid Sharks supporter, so that is an unbiased point of view!

      Chloe - 2011-10-30 07:33

      To the bok selectors , , , DO YOU NOW KNOW WHO THE LIONS ARE ????

      sam.kaitawa - 2011-10-30 08:05

      Hmmmmmmm, as a Kiwi, is Citroes blaming the REF, shudder the thought.........but then again it's not like I've never heard it before. Cheers Lemon

      Gestoffle - 2011-10-30 10:24

      It's amazing how all these lions supporters come out the woodwork from no where...where have you all been for the last 12 years? supporting the sharks? I remember when the sharks played at ellis previously, well it was like a home game for the sharks. Before the game i was hoping the lions would win, but now i regret that. Lions supporters are just like the bulls, very loud, instead of being good winners. Now i will be having a full right go everytime the lions lose. I predict bad times for the lions, the structure wont keep the players and it will self destruct. I look forward to all the thumbsdown, but the truth will hurt. To all the other unions, here is to another 12 years of hurt for the lions.

      Citroes - 2011-10-30 11:37

      @sam.kaitawa - I am a neutral. I support the Cheetahs. I stated a fact - the ref made 2 big mistakes and quite a few minor ones. Where do I blame the ref for anything other than being sub par? At least he was consistently bad both ways, but I disagreed with Colin above who said the game was well reffed. Would you like to take this opportunity to revise your comment aimed at me, or would you like to look stupid?

  • Vickers - 2011-10-29 23:20

    2 Games in a row, First the Lions smacked the Bok back line and then they gave the Bok forwards a hiding. Like Plum said after loosing against Griquas: "They didn't beat us they beat us up." The Sjakies were handed a proper hiding tonight and sent home "kous oor die kop" LIONS YOU BEAUTIES!!!!

      Gestoffle - 2011-10-30 10:25

      It's amazing how all these lions supporters come out the woodwork from no where...where have you all been for the last 12 years? supporting the sharks? I remember when the sharks played at ellis previously, well it was like a home game for the sharks. Before the game i was hoping the lions would win, but now i regret that. Lions supporters are just like the bulls, very loud, instead of being good winners. Now i will be having a full right go everytime the lions lose. I predict bad times for the lions, the structure wont keep the players and it will self destruct. I look forward to all the thumbsdown, but the truth will hurt. To all the other unions, here is to another 12 years of hurt for the lions.

      Vickers - 2011-10-30 10:55

      @Gestoffle. Ouch! If you go back through the season you will find me posting every now and then. I have supported my team through thick and thin. I even mentioned during the week that it is interesting that the two teams with the least obnoxious supporters are in the final. As it has been years since we won it I must have been mistaken about proper protocol. I thought one are allowed to be a little "windgat" and positive about the future if you have the trophy safely locked away in your trophy cabinet. Please accept my most humble apologies...

  • Andrew - 2011-10-29 23:21

    This just shows us all how much nonsense"sports writers"can talk--i really hope that the proteas can get a proper young new coach and bring in new ideas and get sa rugby back to where it belongs--we have the talent and passion.please get rid of all the"old guard"and start afresh.good luck from a passionate sa supporter in dublin,ireland.

      Roland - 2011-10-30 00:00

      ."good luck from a passionate sa supporter in dublin,ireland." who calls THE SPRINGBOKS got nothing....

      Fredeline - 2011-10-30 08:34

      I agree with Andrew, now is the time to clean up.

  • Anneleen - 2011-10-29 23:40

    looking forward to see these two teams meet in the 2012 super 15...well done lions for winning, and to my sharkies, for receiving your medals...have a well-deserved break and c u next year!!!!!

  • Ryan - 2011-10-30 00:37

    if thats what John Mitchell can do with a team with no stars, imagine what he could do with the Boks. I really really really hope SARU appoint a top coach like him, and not an average or above average coach like Coetzee. the Lions were massively outgunned on paper against WP and the Sharks who had teams with loads of Boks. and yet they achieved the impossible.

  • joubert.joep - 2011-10-30 01:46

    The Boks forgot how to play rugby and you could see it with the Sharks today. Off the ball and sometimes even plain silly. We need a new breed of players - please go young! The Sharks looked like Aus

  • heinauto - 2011-10-30 05:13

    Congratulations to the Lions, Players, Coaching team and management team. You guys did a wonderful job and have bragging rights for the next year. Just a question - Did South Africa took the right players to the RWC???? Just think about this, a week ago the Lions devoured the Springbok laden Bergbokkejane team and yesterday they feast on the Springbok laden Guppies. Makes me wonder what they would have done to a Springbok laden Blue Bulls team, unfortunately that we will never know as my beloved Blue Bulls team was just not good enough to make it this year.

      Benmica - 2011-10-30 08:16

      The Bulls won them a few weeks ago. That is the young ones.... Congratulations to the Lions.. But Bulls forever...

      Tony - 2011-10-30 08:33

      @Benmica And so did the WP, Sharks. What difference does that make??? What must I say...WP also beat them ...with their 5th choice flyhalf??? The Lions were awesome yesterday and I don't even think the All Blacks could have beaten them!!!

  • Vickers - 2011-10-30 06:23

    GumaTAC partners Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz, is that some egg dripping of your faces?

      Mark - 2011-10-31 05:19

      Well said Vickers! Who wants a bunch of money-grabbing mercenary sponsors anyway? Especially if they are dishonest about their reasons for pulling out. Well done to John Mitchell, Carlos and all others involved plus the team of course.

  • Ockie - 2011-10-30 06:39

    The Sharks Springboks played well individually and gave their all, but that was the difference ... the Lions played well as a team and gave their all. It surely comes down to coaching and the attitude of players. Well done Lions. A couple of new stars emerged on the SA Rugby scene.

      douglas.ryhlander - 2011-10-30 07:34

      Thats putting it in a nutshell. the question however do we need to look futher than Mitchell for Springbok coach.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2011-10-30 15:08

      Agree, it was a team against a bunch of individuals. Never expected such a hiding - the Sharks should have kept the team that brought them to the semi's, they would have done better. I guess what happened is called justice, and proves that team sports are not about individuals. My Sharks are feeling a bit skaam today methinks.

  • Chris - 2011-10-30 07:09

    Kyk dis hoekom ek my span bly ondersteun want ek het geweet als sal regkom dit gaan net tydvat en ek dank Mitchel vir die werk wat hy gedoen het met die Leeus. En waar is die sogenaamde Bizie en die ander springies DIT IS HOEKOM DIE SPRINGBOKKE HULLE GATTE GESIEN HET hulle het gedink dis n' verkansie daar in LZ en hulle is onbetasbaar en toe nie so ook met die WP se springies hulle koppe is nou maar eenmaal te groot. As Mitchel van die manne gevat het wereld bekker toe dan het ons so wragtig beter gedoen .En vir laastens die ander spanne moet ons spelers nou uitlos HULLE IS ONS Champs. Sorry maar bog eenetjie Toe is die beste skrumie na die Bloubulle toe vir wat? ons het nie sulke slapgatte nodig nie .

  • george.efstratiou - 2011-10-30 07:15

    The reason the Lions won: 1/ Thay have a New Zealand coach 2/ The Sharks had 6 Springboks?? Enough said LOL LOL

      Facts - 2011-10-30 09:05

      And 9 old Springboks. We have the same problem at Province.

  • Hedzer - 2011-10-30 07:37

    Just a comment about Mitchell --- can't we asked him to select a boksquad and see what players he will select.

  • Chris - 2011-10-30 08:06

    Fantastic win Lions, well done! I cannot understand how Jaco Taute has been overlooked by the national selectors for so long!! Maybe because the Lions have long been the whipping boys and they (the selectors) thought no one in the team was up to it! He's a much more exciting and talented player than Zane Kirchner.

      Tony - 2011-10-30 08:37

      Miskien skyn die son warmer in Pretoria as in Jhb??? Jy tan makliker...

  • Benmica - 2011-10-30 08:14

    It is just a bunch of young guys hungry to win! They wanted to prove themselves.....they had nothing to lose. CONGRATULATIONS..... The Bulls forever, even now.

  • Facts - 2011-10-30 08:39

    Well done guys. No big names but MASSIVE hearts. Congratulations to John Mitchell and his team. Enjoy your win from a Province supporter.

  • Derrick - 2011-10-30 08:50

    Amazing to think that in the last couple of years the Lions have lost such amazing talent such as Willem Alberts,Louis Ludik,Jacques Fourie,Jano Vermaak,Ernst Joubert to name a few but still came up trumps. PLEZZZ- Kevin De Klerk make sure we hang on to these boytjies

      Ockie - 2011-10-30 09:26

      Derrick, I can think of:the following talented players that left the Lions the last couple of years. (I am not talking about present form!) 15) Conrad Jantjies, Louis Ludik 14) 13) Jacque Fourie 12) 11) Bryan Habana 10) Andre Pretorius 9) Jano Vermaak 8) Willem Alberts 7) Ernst Joubert 6) 5) 4) Anton Van Zyl 3) 2) Schalk Britz 1) Heinke Van Der Merwe

      Derrick - 2011-10-30 10:45

      We wont mention Jaco Pretorius , Earl Rose,Etienne Reyneke or Januarie

  • percy.mokone - 2011-10-30 08:50

    What a fantastic victory, Lions are pride of AFRICA, Golden Lions are pride of South African Rugby.Well done boys.

  • Mark - 2011-10-30 09:15

    Brilllllllllllllllllllllllliant game, bad luck Sharks, now lets keep this team together, Lions management! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LIONS

  • Alan - 2011-10-30 09:18


      Ryan - 2011-10-30 09:51

      no it doesnt show that. it shows we had the wrong coach. and it shows what a great coach can do with no stars even.

      Butch - 2011-10-30 22:18

      And with morons as coaches

  • Barry - 2011-10-30 09:58

    Hi, I am a sharks supporter. Congrats to the Lions. What a game you played. Deserved Currie Cup Champions !! The Sharks and all the other teams have got some thinking to do before next year.

      Facts - 2011-10-30 10:19

      Unfortunately I don't think that "thinking" is part of the Province vocabulary. We only want and buy backline players and hope and pray that the opposition forwards ALWAYS have an off day when we play against them. Province needs a clean-up, from management to players because we will never win a cup with the current setup.

  • doc.mouton - 2011-10-30 10:13

    Well done Lions!! You deserve the cup. As a WP supporter (having been trounced last week) again, well done

  • Butch - 2011-10-30 10:20

    Now for a proper and superior coaching team for the boks and forget about morons trying to winRWC with old crocks thinking they know how to play rugby - they don't. Selct Mitchell and Carlos . Meyer or plumtree. They are all masters . Sharks did not loose because tPlumb. but because of totally overated and overweight "boks". Please selct a MASTER coach and no moron - RUGBY WORLD CUP HATES MEDIOCRITY !!!

      Ryan - 2011-10-30 10:44

      are you joking. any idiot that thinks the Lions have more individual talent than the Sharks needs his head checked. i dont support either teams btw. Mitchell/Carlos are the better coaches and won the Currie Cup with far fewer resources than the Sharks. the mark of an excellent coach

  • Hotti - 2011-10-30 10:32


      Ryan - 2011-10-30 10:37

      Coetzee is competent. you should look for a great coach. like Mitchell

  • Phil - 2011-10-30 11:49

    The "Bok laden" Sharks were "laden" with the same Boks that couldn't cut it in Kiwiland!! Great game by the Lions , big raps to John Mitchell , go guys !

  • james.kukard - 2011-10-30 23:37

    @ gestoffle. We were there, we took the chirps and the sarcasim from the other supporters because we were beaten 8/10 times. The bulls supporters chirp how they gonna beat us in the semi's on Ellispark,I kept quiet,the Shark supporters told me how lucky we are because their springsbok is in NZ winning the WC and that's the only rteson we're on top of the log,again I kept quiet and the Wp supporters said the same as the Shark and now after all that,you tell me I have no right to be loud. We were the laughingstock and we had to listen to all the noise. We've waited 12years to make noise and I think we deserve that, SO SHUT THE F@@K UP!! I. WANT TO MAKE SOME NOISE!!( Because I can)

      Paul - 2011-10-31 10:42

      Don't hold back, James. Let it all hang out!

  • Clint - 2011-11-01 07:21

    15) Conrad Jantjies, Louis Ludik 14) 13) Jacque Fourie 12) 11) Bryan Habana 10) Andre Pretorius 9) Jano Vermaak 8) Willem Alberts 7) Ernst Joubert 6) 5) 4) Anton Van Zyl 3) brian Mujati 2) Schalk Britz 1) Heinke Van Der Merwe

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