Tyrone Green scored two tries as the Lions beat the Reds 27-20 at Ellis Park on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
With heavy rain in Johannesburg over the past three days and major transport routes having been flooded, the Lions took to Twitter on Saturday to confirm that this match would take place as scheduled.
The wet conditions predictably prevented it from being a spectacle, with the Lions having to grind out their first win of the season. It was a far from convincing performance and their set-piece struggles will be of particular concern to coach Ivan van Rooyen.
Bryce Hegarty opened the scoring for the Reds with an early penalty goal, before a clever kick from Elton Jantjies through the visitors’ defence sat up perfectly for Green, who scored his first Super Rugby try for the Lions.
A less successful grubber kick from the hosts near halfway resulted in Jock Campbell racing away to score under the posts, but Green grabbed his second try shortly afterwards to level the scores at 10-10.
The Reds dominated the next period of play, winning two turnovers and two scrum penalties. They got some reward for those efforts when Hegarty added another three points to their tally.
The Lions finished the half strongly, though, and after repeated infringements from the Reds close to their tryline, Taniela Tupou was yellow-carded. The Lions kicked to the corner again, Marnus Schoeman went over from an unstoppable driving maul and Jantjies’ conversion made it 17-13.
The Reds were reduced to 13 men when Josh Nasser was sent to the sin bin early in the second half.
Green then put a foot in touch before scoring what would have been his hat-trick try and only desperate defence from the Lions prevented the Reds from going over at the other end of the field minutes later.
Having been restored to 15 men, the visitors won another two scrum penalties in quick succession and while Harry Wilson then had a try ruled out, Tate McDermott darted over soon after to give them a 20-17 lead.
The Lions’ response was excellent, with a 21-phase attack finished off by Courtnall Skosan. Jantjies’ kicked the conversion and then added a penalty.
That meant the Reds needed a converted try to snatch a draw, but a knock-on inside Lions’ territory with two minutes to go ended their hopes.
Lions – Tries: Tyrone Green (2), Marnus Schoeman, Courtnall Skosan. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.
Reds – Tries: Jock Campbell, Tate McDermott. Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (2). Penalty: Hegarty (2).
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Duncan Matthews, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (c), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Ruan Vermaak, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Manny Rass, 23 Shaun Reynolds.
Reds – 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (c), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Sean Farrell, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Hunter Paisami.
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix