Vodacom Super 14

Reds run riot against Lions

2010-04-10 21:10
Jano Vermaak (File)
Johannesburg - With the Reds scoring their bonus point try after only 17 minutes, the winless Lions looked as if they would be totally annihilated in their Super 14 match at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday night. But credit to the home side that fought back to lose 41-26 and conceded only two more tries.

In fact, with the Lions scoring four tries themselves to at one stage trail only 27-19, the home side had the better of the game for much of the last 60 minutes - and if only they could limit those defensive errors and work on their retention, they could surprise some of their remaining opponents.

For the Lions it was an eighth defeat from eight matches - but after the shell-shocked first 17 minutes there were many positives to take home for the future, of which guts stood out.

It started in the worst possible way for the Lions as Reds right wing Rod Davies scored after less than two minutes. He started a run from his own territory, the Lions missed their tackles and after a good combination between forwards and backs Quade Cooper stabbed through a ball for the youngster to score. With Cooper converting the Reds were on an early roll.

And it was not over.

From the restart, the Lions knocked on. Fullback Peter Hynes then stepped his way through all too easily from the ensuing scrum and after more good interplay between the players of this skilful Aussie team, Cooper went over with less than four minutes on the clock (12-0).

The Lions had a brief attack, spearheaded by Jano Vermaak and Wikus van Heerden in the 13th minute, but a knock-on led to a breakdown. Shortly after, another Lions error saw Davies scoring his second try - and at 24-0 the home side looked and were in dire straits.

The rest of the half largely belonged to the Lions who had seemingly settled down. However, too many handling errors cost them when they looked threatening. At times they looked like a team playing together for the first time and the forwards, although improved from the opening quarter, were still not getting to the breakdown in sufficient numbers to contest more effectively.

That changed in the second half, though, when they toiled endlessly and were very good at close quarters.

The Lions got their reward for some good work in the 25th minute when Cobus Grobbelaar and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak set up the ball - and after ten phases Vermaak, doubling around, sent Michael Killian over for an unconverted try (24-5).

The Lions retained their grip and continued with their handling errors, and Carlos Spencer missed his third kick from three. From the restart Hynes again broke through much too easily, and Cooper added three to the Reds score from 15 metres out with a penalty (27-5).

Deservedly, through perseverance and despite continuing errors, lock Franco van der Merwe scored 14 minutes into the second half. With replacement Herkie Kruger converting, the score became 27-12.

And then the Lions showed what they can do, with forwards and backs running the length of the field for a near-try - with a lost ball on the Reds' line again costing them a possible score.

The Reds' Hooker Faingaa was yellow-carded after taking Van der Merwe's legs away in a line-out - the second sign of frustration from the Reds within a minute - and then the Lions came with the ten-man lineout drive that saw them score three times against the Highlanders.

Good control and retention from the ensuing rucks saw them take it wide and Kruger scored and converted. - and with a quarter left the game was on at 27-19.

But Cooper had other ideas when he dummied and stepped from a ruck shortly after the restart and Hynes was on hand to score. With the conversion good, it was 34-19 and it became 41-19 12 minutes later when Ezra Taylor scored.

But not to be outdone, the Lions went back on attack, squandered a good opportunity and fought back again for Killian to score a good try, his second, for the bonus point.

Scorers: Lions: Tries: Michael Killian (2), Franco van der Merwe, Herkie Kruger.

Conversions: Kruger (3): Reds: Tries: Rod Davies (2), Quade Cooper, Saila Faingaa, Peter Hynes, Ezra Taylor Conversions: Quade Cooper (4). Penalties: Cooper.

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