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Lions 29 (5) vs Highlanders 22 (19)

Lions stage big come-back in second half to beat Highlanders

Highlanders run out of steam

The Lions got the early break in the match when Willem Alberts picked up from a Lions scrum on the halfway line and managed to break clear of the defenders, and chipped ahead when he had players in front of him, Fullaback Israel Dagg carried the ball into his in-goal area and was caught by Vermaak, forcing a 5 meter scrum for the Lions. From the scrum the Lions got a free-kick, which they quickly sent down the left and Killian took the final pass to dive over for a try in the corner. Pretorius failed with the conversion attempt from the touch line, but the Lions in the lead 5-0 after just seven minutes.

Unfortunately for the Lions Earl Rose then had one of his bright ideas again, the ball was kicked deep into the Lions 22 and went out, Rose chased the ball and took a quick throw to himself, but he had no support and got caught by Thompson, who took the ball off him and passed to the Hooker, who passed to Soakai who dived over for the try with Ludik too late with the tackle. Again the conversion was missed, so the score 5-5 after 18 minutes.

12 minutes later the Highlanders took the lead for the first time, after some poor defense from the Lions yet again. The Highlanders shifted the ball down the backline to the left, but the Flyhalf was caught, he passed to Ben Smith in support just inside the Lions 22, and he beat a few tackles and eventually went over the line with Killian, but the TMO ruled that he scored. This time Dagg kicked the conversion to make it 12-5 for the Highlanders.

The Highlanders upped the tempo just before the break, and eventually after a number of phases the Lions defense was found wanting and Cowan scored the third try for the Highlanders, again converted by Dagg to make the score 19-5 at the break.

The Highlanders opened the scoring in the second half as well, this from a penalty kicked by Dagg from the Lions 10 meter line after 5 minutes into the second half, making the score 22-5.

The Lions then lifted their game a bit, with the forwards looking a bit more urgent, and eventually Willem Alberts drove over the line for a try after a number of phases. Andre Pretorius converted to make it 22-12 for the Highlanders.

18 minutes into the second half the Lions scored a great try, it started when Rose passed the ball to Alberts on the halfway line, Alberts broke the first attempted tackle on him and put in a strong run, Vermaak ran with him in support on his left, and took the pass on  the 22 meter line, and used his speed to get in for the try. Pretorius converted to make it 22-19 for the Highlanders.

Six minutes later the Lions could have leveled the score, but Pretorius missed what looked like a fairly easy penalty from the 22 meter line.

32 minutes into the second half the Lions grabbed the lead, they took a quick free kick on the halfway line, and Ludik suddenly found some space that he ran into, and then on the 22 he passed to Rose, who managed to run in the try. Pretorius converted to make it 26-22 for the Lions.

Just three minutes later Andre Pretorius put the Lions further ahead when he got a quick ball from a ruck and he slotted a drop goal from just inside the Highlanders half, making the score 29-22 and making sure the Lions couldn't lose this one.

The Highlanders threw everything they had at the Lions in the final six minutes, but the Lions defense held, with Walter Venter making a few telling tackles, and eventually time ran out and the Lions picked up a great win.

The scorers:

For the Lions:
 Michael Killian, Willem Alberts, Jano Vermaak, Earl Rose
Cons: Andre Pretorius(3)
Drops: Andre Pretorius

For the Highlanders:
 Alando Soakai, Ben Smith, Jimmy Cowan
Cons: Israel Dagg(2)
Pens: Israel Dagg

Yellow card: None 
Red card: None 

Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Andre Pretorius(c), 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Robert Kruger, 6 Johan van Deventer, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Jannes Labuschagne, 3 Lawrence Sephaka, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Hans van Dyk, 17 Gert Muller, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Todd Clever, 20 Chris Jonck, 21 Walter Venter, 22 Dusty Noble.

Highlanders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Matthew Berquist, 9 Jimmy Cowan(c), 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3. Clint Newland / Chris King, 2 David Hall, 1 Jamie MacKintosh.
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Jayden Hayward, 22 Kenny Lynn.

Referee: Jaco Peyper
Touch judges: Craig Joubert and Cobus Wessels
TV Match Official: Shaun Veldsman

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