Eduan Keyter scored four tries as the Griquas beat the Lion at Ellis Park to maintain their lead over the second placed Pumas at the top of the Currie Cup log.
JOHANNESBURG – A first minute try by the Griquas’ eightman Gideon van der Merwe set the tone for the match, as the Kimberley-based side smashed their way through the Lions to claim an impressive result in their Currie Cup clash on Wednesday afternoon at Emirates Airline Park.
The Lions could simply not subdue the visitors, and their endeavour was made all the more difficult after a red card to EW Viljoen due a dangerous tackle and a yellow card to Duncan Matthews, also for dangerous play – both in the second half – resulted in the Lions finishing the match with 13 men. That the Joburgers even stayed within touching distance for most of the match was all down to their second half scrum, led by Carlu Sadie, that dominated the visitors.
But it was certainly not enough to halt a niggly Griquas side, who ran out convincing 41-31 winners.
It was not the best of starts from the Joburgers as fundamental errors and some poor decision-making, especially in the initial 20 minutes put them under heaps of pressure.
Griquas played those opening 20 minutes with much more energy and verve, and threatened the Lions’ tryline more consistently, despite playing with less ball. It saw them take a 10-0 lead through Van der Merwe’s quick-fire try and a conversion and penalty by George Whitehead. They could have had more were they just a smidgen more clinical, Whitehead also missing three penalties in the first stanza.
It took the Lions, who were enjoying a fair share of the possession, nearly 30 minutes to finally open their account, scrumhalf Morné van den Berg taking a quick tap to snipe his way across the whitewash and record his first Currie Cup try. Sti Sithole followed suit six minutes later after quick ball stretched the Griquas defence for the burly Lions prop to crash over under the poles.
Their 12-10 lead was short-lived, however, as Eduan Keyter finished off a good team effort to record the Griquas’ second try, the visitors heading back into the shed with a narrow, but well-deserved five point lead.
The Lions will feel aggrieved that a first minute try by Burger Odendaal in the second half was not awarded as the TMO judged that there was no reason for Rasta Rasivhenge to overturn an on-field decision, only for the referee to do so anyway. Nevertheless, after an under-par scrum performance in the first 40, the Lions found their footing in the second, powering through the Griquas set-piece.
It shifted the pressure squarely onto the Griquas for a good amount of time and directly resulted in the hosts scoring their third try, the opening touchdown of the second stanza in the 45th minute, with Rabz Maxwane diving into the corner.
Keyter then scored his brace, collecting a cross-kick punted into oodles of space due to the red-card of Viljoen. The tit-for-tat continued shortly after with Ruan Dreyer crashing over the line. But as soon as the Lions restored some sort of parity, the indomitable Griques struck back immediately, and it was that man Keyter again, scoring his hat-trick to ensure an eight-point lead with 10 minutes to play.
The Griquas wing then scored his fourth, and any thought of a heroic come-back by the Lions was snuffed out when replacement Duncan Matthews was yellow-carded for a silly clearing attempt at a ruck.
Travis Gordon did manage to add a degree of respectability to the final score, but the Lions will rue their mistakes and their ill-discipline, while the Griquas will celebrate a magnificent victory that took advantage of all their hosts’ deficiencies, while adding to their rising stature.
Sigma Lions (12) 31 – Tries: Van den Berg, Sithole, Maxwane, Dreyer, Gordon; Conversions: Hendrickse (3)
Red Card: Viljoen; Yellow Card: Duncan Matthews
Griquas (17) 41 – Tries: Van der Merwe, Keyter (4); Conversions: Whitehead (5); Penalties: Whitehead (2)