Tiaan Swanepoel fires Lions to fifth straight win
Fullback Tiaan Swanepoel inspired the Lions to their fifth consecutive Currie Cup win when they downed the Pumas 33-25 in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Swanepoel contributed 22 points to help set up a potentially top of the table clash with the Blue Bulls at Loftus in midweek.
In a match in which fortunes fluctuated‚ the Lions showed greater resolve when it mattered in the second half.
Although maintaining discipline became increasingly important as this clash wore on it was a midfield mistake from the Pumas that proved decisive.
Flyhalf Devon Williams spilled the ball in the tackle and from the turnover the Lions hit left resulting in a well worked try for Swanepoel under the poles.
Williams is as full of exuberance as he is error. The outrageous and ordinary are comfortably within his reach but to be fair the Pumas‚ despite all their honest endeavour‚ collectively find ways of undermining their efforts.
They got out of the blocks first. With just over one-and-a-half minutes on the clock Luther Obi bashed over the gainline before No.8 Willie Engelbrecht profited from a on-the-deck pop pass for a converted try.
The hosts barely had time to bask in their spring-heeled start before the Lions struck back. They eschewed the opportunity to kick a penalty at goal and from the ensuing line-out lock Marvin Orie rose high and hooker Jaco Visagie went low off the back back of the maul.
The set pieces were feverishly contested. Both teams effectively applied a spoiling hand at the line-out‚ with the Pumas’ second steal proving particularly useful 5m from their goalline.
The scrums too were an arm wrestle. On a surface that was greasy‚ with resets the order of the day‚ the Lions didn't quite get the dominance from that facet in the first half.
However the introduction of tighthead Carlu Sadie and loosehead Ruan Dreyer in the second gave the Lions the traction they were looking for.
Before that though the Pumas scrapped well and found ways of knocking the Lions out of their stride largely through the efforts of lock Darrien Landsberg and No.8 Engelbrecht‚ and perhaps deservedly grabbed the half-time lead.
They nudged ahead through a maul try by hooker Simon Westraadt just when their drive looked destined for the touchline.
The Lions‚ however‚ had the better of the exchanges in the third quarter as they added 17 points to their tally while the hosts could only muster three.
The Lions then kept them at arm's length.
PUMAS (17) 25: Tries: Willie Engelbrecht‚ Simon Westraadt‚ Erich Cronje. Conversions: Devon Williams‚ Ginter Smuts. Penalties: Smuts (2).
LIONS (13) 33: Tries: Tiaan Swanepoel (2)‚ Jaco Visagie. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalties: Swanepoel (4).
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