Lions survive Jaguares scare
Cape Town - The Lions beat the Jaguares 24-21 (half-time 14-7) in their Super Rugby encounter at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Friday night.
The home side had trailed 21-14 with 10 minutes remaining, before closing the game out in the final 10 minutes.
In a tightly contested affair, momentum between the two sides ebbed and flowed throughout but it was the Lions who got the rub of the green in the end when flyhalf Elton Jantjies slotted a late penalty which secured victory for the home side.
Both sides scored three tries apiece although the Jaguares will be kicking themselves as they were the dominant side for large periods but the Lions' experience pulled them through in the end.
The result consolidates the Lions' position at the top of the Africa Conference 2 table while the Jaguares are 12 points behind them in third place.
The visitors made a fine start and opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Matias Orlando rounded off a flowing move after Nicolas Sanchez made the initial break, just outside the Lions' 22, in the build-up.
The Lions did not take long to respond though and five minutes later, Harold Vorster ran a superb angle to gather a Ross Cronje pass and stepped past a couple of defenders before crossing the whitewash.
The home side thought they had extended their lead shortly afterwards when Warren Whiteley went over in the right-hand corner but his effort was disallowed when television replays showed he put a foot in touch in the build-up.
The Lions put that setback behind them, however, as soon afterwards Lionel Mapoe put them in front in spectacular fashion. The Springbok ran onto a pass from Cronje close to the Jaguares' 10m line and beat three defenders before selling Ramiro Moyano a brilliant dummy and dotted down under the posts.
Despite that setback, the Jaguares did not panic and with the score at 14-7 to the Lions at half-time, the men from Buenos Aires were still in the game.
Just like the first half, they started the second period brightly and seven minutes after the restart Rodrigo Baez showed great determination to burst through a couple of tackles before stretching over the whitewash.
Sanchez added the extras to draw the visitors level and shortly afterwards Guido Petti put his side back in front when he went over in the left-hand corner after several players handled the ball in the build-up.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts three minutes later when Vorster was sent to the sin-bin after he slowed the ball down cynically at a breakdown just outside his 22.
Shortly afterwards, Lions coach Johan Ackermann replaced his entire front row as well as Andries Ferreira and Madosh Tambwe at the same time in a bid to take control of proceedings.
In the 69th minute, replacement wing Sylvian Mahuza went over in tryline after a mazy run but, like Whiteley, he too stepped into touch before crossing the whitewash.
But despite that setback, the Lions did not panic and they were rewarded five minutes later when Ruan Ackermann scored their third try after Andries Coetzee launched a counter-attack from deep inside his half.
Jantjies slotted the conversion which drew his side level and landed the match-winning penalty in the 77th minute after the Jaguares were penalised for illegal scrummaging.
In next weekend's action, the Lions travel to Australia to duel the Force in Perth, while the Jaguares head back home to host the Sharks in Buenos Aires.
Tries: Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Ackermann
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3)
Tries: Matias Orlando, Rodrigo Baez, Guido Petti
Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez (3)
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Corne Fourie
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
15 Ramiro Moyano, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Bautista Ezcurra, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Benjamin Macome, 7 Rodrigo Baez, 6 Tomas Lezana, 5 Marcos Kremer, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz
Substitutes: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Emiliano Boffelli