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Lions 11 vs Highlanders 6

Lions beat Highlanders for first Super 14 victory

Highlanders couldn't breach the Lions defense

The Lions beat the Highlanders 11-6 at Ellis Park for their first victory in the Super 14 since getting rid of the Cats tag. The Lions certainly had more scoring opportunities, but in the end managed to score one try, and that was all that separated the two teams. 

The Lions got the first chance for points very early in the game when Ludik gathered a kick ahead and ran it up to the halfway line, where he was tackled, and the tackler penalised for not rolling away. Unfortunately Strydom's kick was short and to the right.

The Lions kept up the pressure though, putting the ball through phases in the Highlanders territory, and eventually another penalty came, this one much closer and easier that the first, and this time Strydom converted it to put the Lions in a 3-0 lead after four minutes.

The Highlanders were awarded their first penalty after 12 minutes of the first half, this for a Lions transgression at a ruck just outside their 22 meter line, but close to the left touch line. Callum Bruce had no difficulty to kick it over and level the scores at three all.

For the next few minutes the Lions were full of running, hitting left and right across the field, and looking very promising, but play eventually broke down when Doppies la Grange knocked on just outside the Highlanders 22 meter line.

26 minutes into the first half Franco van der Merwe had to replace Alberts for blood.

Then, from nothing, the Highlanders were shifting the ball down the line on the halfway line, and then the wing opted to kick, where Wylie Human was rushing up to him, and somehow the ball went straight into the hands of Human, who ran in the try unopposed down the right hand touchline. Strydom missed the conversion, but the Lions were back in the lead 8-3.

The Lions almost got punished for a bad mistake, when they opted for a line-out when awarded a penalty close to the Highlanders try-line. The drive was well stopped by the Highlanders, and the ball had to come left to the backline, where a ruck was set up, and when the ball came out, Vermaak passed to Human, who attempted a drop, but it was charged down and kicked ahead by the Highlanders, eventually up to close to the Lions try-line, where Jaco Pretorius gathered, and under pressure, passed to Ludik, but the ball went loose, and over the try-line, but luckily Ludik got there first and prevented a try.

In the 37th minute, the Lions were driving well from a line-out, and just outside the Highlanders 22, the maul was collapsed, and a penalty awarded by the referee. Strydom kicked it over for the Lions to lead 11-3, which was also the halftime score.

The Lions had the first attack in the second half, when their scrum actually got pushed back on the halfway line, and it wheeled left, where Alberts picked up, and suddenly found no defenders in front of him. He got to the 22 meter line of the Highlanders, where he had Vermaak on his right and Human on his left, he passed to Human, who advanced a bit and got tackled, but Cobus Grobbelaar picked up, and with defenders on him, got over the line. The TMO said no try.

Four minutes into the 2nd half, Bertus Smit replaced Mujati, and his first contribution to the game was to lose his boot at a scrum and take a very long time to get it back on again. Reynecke came on for Wepener eight minutes into the 2nd half. 

Ten minutes into the 2nd half, the Highlanders had a defending scrum close to their try-line, the Lions demolished their scrum, but somehow they kept possession, and kicked ahead, where Jaco Pretorius jumped to take the ball in the air, and Mulipola took his feet from under him, and was rightly yellow carded by the referee.

Sixteen minutes into the 2nd half, Earl Rose replaced Wylie Human, who in the play just before he was replaced, did very well to run back and pick up a ball that was kicked ahead by the Highlanders, probably stopping a try in the process.

Eighteen minutes into the 2nd half, Franco van der Merwe replaced Alberts, who had a great game at number eight up till then, and Jaco van Schalkwyk replaced Doppies.

22 minutes into the 2nd half the Lions came close, Vermaak kicked an up and under from the base of a scrum in his 22 onto Mulipola, who caught the ball but was flattened by Jaque Fourie at the same time. The Lions won the ball at this ruck, and hit right with the backline, Jaco van Schalkwyk looping a skip pass to Ludik, operating on the right wing. Ludik ran strong, but was tackled in the corner, where he lost the ball forward trying to dot it down.

25 minutes into the 2nd half Gilfillan replaced Alberts, so just Januarie from the bench not used at this stage.

28 minutes into the 2nd half the Lions made an early tackle on a player just inside their 10 meter line, and replacement Charlie Hore kicked the penalty, the first points of the second half, and the score now 11-6 for the Lions.

30 minutes into the 2nd half Januarie replaced Vermaak, so the whole Lions bench now on.

33 minutes into the 2nd half, Jaco van Schalkwyk kicked a monster line kick after fielding the ball inside his 22, it went out halfway into the Highlanders 22.

In the last 5 minutes the Highlanders threw everything at the Lions, and it was highly entertaining rugby from both sides, but the Lions managed to keep them out and win their first Super 14 match.      

The scorers:

For the Lions:

For Highlanders:
Pens: Bruce(1), Hore (1)     

Yellow card: Mulipola (50)
Red card: none 

Lions: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Jaco Pretorius, 10 Louis Strydom, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Ernst Joubert(c), 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Cobus Grobler, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Bertus Smit, 18 Gordon Gilfillan, 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Enrico Januarie, 21 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 22 Earl Rose.

Highlanders: 15. Craig Clare, 14. Lucky Mulipola, 13. Matt Saunders, 12. Jason Kawau, 11. Greg Zampach, 10. Callum Bruce, 9. Jimmy Cowan, 8. Craig Newby, 7. Josh Blackie(c), 6. Hoani MacDonald, 5. James Ryan, 4. Filipo Levi, 3. Clarke Dermody, 2. Jason MacDonald, 1. Chris King.
Replacements: 16. David Hall, 17. Keith Cameron, 18. Ezra Taylor, 19. Alando Soakai, 20. Toby Morland, 21. Charlie Hore, 22. Willie Rickards.  

Referee: Paul Marks (Aus) 
Touch judges: Brett Bowden (Aus) and Jaco Peyper (SA)
TV Match Official:
Johann Meuwesen (SA)

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