Cape Town - The Golden Lions ended their four match losing streak as they edged the Pumas 29-28 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg in their Currie Cup encounter on Saturday.
As it happened: Golden Lions v Pumas
The home side remain rooted to the foot of the table and, despite scoring five tries to four, will know that they are still a long way short of their best.
The match got off to a blistering start as Ryan Kankowski dotted down with the opening whistle still ringing around the stadium when he cleanly picked the ball from his boot straps and dived over into an unguarded corner.
However, as has so often been the case for the Lions this season, their opponents responded immediately with a try of their when Stefan Ungerer tapped quickly from a penalty and exploited cavernous holes in the Lions defence.
The sides again traded alternating blows 10 minutes later as first Ruan Dreyer ran over Jerome Pretorius from close range to nudge the home side back into the lead before Pumas flank Lambert Groenewald reached out a long arm to bag his team’s second.
The Lions have now conceded 40 tries in 7 matches, more than anyone else in the competition, and once again looked suspect on defence.
With ball in hand though, they retain their ability to be dazzling and ended the half with a further two tries. The second of which was the result of a piece of brilliance from Ashlon Davids. The diminutive flyhalf did not have his radar working from the tee today, missing four kicks at goal, but he was pinpoint in his cross field punt to Madosh Tambwe who hardly had to move to open up a deserving eight point lead heading into the break.
The pattern of the first half was replicated in the second with both sides scoring within a few minutes of each other. First another quick tap and darting run from Ungerer culminated in Groenewald's second of the game before Rohan Janse van Rensburg finished off a slick Lions move with Davids adding the extra two to restore the eight point advantage.
As both sides emptied their benches the game descended into a disjointed affair as referee Egon Seconds had a difficult time keeping a handle on the scrums and breakdown.
Both sets of forwards were clearly running out of gas and with all 16 big men coalesced in the middle of the field, a hacked ball forward from a Puma boot found Pretorius in acres of space who unloaded for winger Ruwellyn Isbell to score under the posts.
With only eight minutes to go, Pumas lock Hugo Kloppers received his marching orders for slowing the ball down and with a man advantage the Lions comfortably held on to their slender lead.
Both teams remain in the North as the Lions head to Kimberley next week to take on the Griquas as the Pumas make the trip home to Nelspruit to play host to the Sharks.
Tries: Ryan Kankowski, Ruan Dreyer, Marco Janse van Vuuren, Madosh Tambwe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Conversions: Ashlon Davids (2)
Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Lambert Groenewald (2), Ruwellyn Isbell
Conversions: Kobus Marais (4)
Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Manual Rass, 12 Rohan Janse van
Rensburg, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Ashlon Davids, 9 Marco Jansen van Vuren,
8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4
Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16. Pieter Jansen, 17. Corné Fourie, 18.
Jacobie Adriaanse, 19. Robert Kruger, 20. Hacjivah Dayimani, 21. Branco
du Preez, 22. Jaco van der Walt
Gerrit Smith, 14 JP Lewis, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Hennie Skorbinski
(captain), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8
Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Hugo
Kloppers, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Mark Pretorius, 1 Kwezi
Mona.Substitutes: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18
Cameron Lindsay, 19 Brian Shabangu, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Reynier van
Rooyen, 22 Neil Maritz