The Lions played their hearts out in Sunday’s Currie Cup clash against Griquas, but came up short thanks to an 84-minute try by last year’s runners-up.
Durban — Griquas saved their best rugby for after the hooter had gone at Emirates Airline Park to score an 84th-minute try to break the hearts of a Lions side that had played their hearts out on Sunday afternoon.
It had been 18-18 with one minute of regulation time left in this Currie Cup fixture when Griquas took the ball through 25 phases to open up space out wide for replacement prop Cebo Dlamini to burst through and score a try he will never forget. Eddie Fouche converted and Griquas had won a match that they had never looked like winning, 25-18.
This Griquas team was awful and looked nothing like the team that made the final last year while a Lions side packed with youth defended with ferocity and on the balance of play should have won.
— Griquas Rugby (@GriquasRugby) April 16, 2023
Griquas flyhalf George Whitehead kicked the first points after just two minutes before veteran Lions fullback Tiaan Swanepoel levelled matters.
There was a key moment in the 20th minute when Griquas prop Janu Botha was yellow carded in front of his posts for an upright tackle and from that position, Swanepoel nudged a kick into the in-goal area where Zeilinga Strydom pounced for an excellent try.
Just before half-time, Griquas, at last, enjoyed a clean line break and, inevitably, it was the livewire Roskco Specman who scythed through to set up a try for hooker Janco Uys.
Strangely, the usually reliable Whitehead missed the simple conversion attempt and that meant the home side led 10-8 at the break.
And then, incredibly, he missed a penalty directly in front of the post in the 49th minute.
Whitehead’s profligacy hurt his team all the more when Swanepoel stepped up to boot his team further into the lead at 13-8.
Fouche moved from 12 to flyhalf when Whitehead was subbed but the first thing he did was overcook the restart. From the scrum on the centre spot, the Lions won a penalty but this time it was Swanepoel who missed a straightforward kick at goal.
Ten minutes from time Griquas took the lead for the first time when Fouche kicked to the corner and for the first time, the maul worked for the visitors, and a few phases later scrumhalf Johan Muller wriggled over. Fouche converted for an 18-13 lead.
The Lions then snatched the initiative when JC Pretorius gathered a kick in the Griquas’ 22 to level the scores but Swanepoel missed the conversion from out wide.
A draw looked likely but then came the cameo from Dlamini.
Lions 18 — Tries: Zeilinga Strydom, JC Pretorius. Penalties: Tiaan Swanepoel (2). Conversion: Swanepoel.
Griquas 25 — Tries: Janco Uys, Johan Mulder, Cebo Dlamini. Penalties: George Whitehead, Eddie Fouche. Conversions: Fouche (2).