Lions 65 (25) vs Chiefs 72 (27)
Chiefs edge Lions in 18-try thriller
(match report from sarugby.net)
Tries rained down on Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Friday night as the Chiefs beat the Auto and General Lions 72-65 in their Vodacom Super 14 match.
In a bizarre and unbelievably entertaining match that saw more than 130 points and 18 tries in total the Lions rallied back to score 40 points in the last 20 minutes and give themselves a second bonus point for their efforts.
It was an extremely satisfying end to a match where the Lions looked to be dead and buried at 65-25 down, but while it was a crowd pleaser, when Dick Muir and his team leave for Australia on Sunday they will desperately need to look at their defence if they are to ever make an impact in the competition.
One thing is certain, this Lions side does have a lot of heart and character, and on attack there is little to separate it from some of the better sides in the competition.
Yet they scored six of their tries when the Chiefs were down to 14 -- and in one case -- 13 men thanks to a very indisciplined performance on their behalf. Still, as Muir will undoubtedly point out, you’ve still got to cross the line and the Lions did this no less than nine times in the game.
Winger Wandile Mjekevu certainly looked like a Super 14 player with his hat-trick, while others such as Tonderai Chavhanga, Todd Clever, Derick Minnie, Jacques Coetzee and Michael Killian certainly made an impression on the evening.
As exciting as the rugby may have been, the sobering thought still lingers as to why this team does not have a defensive coach.
The Chiefs were not exceptional on the night -- in fact their indiscipline let the Lions into the game more than once. But on attack they tore the Lions defence to shreds, with Richard Kahui playing a giant part in the massive lead they built up halfway through the second half with a hat-trick of his own.
In the end the Chiefs certainly looked as if they ran out of steam -- being played off their feet as the altitude took its toll and brought the Lions roaring back to have the visitors holding on for the victory. Had the game been five minutes longer, it is doubtful they would have survived.
The Chiefs certainly made scoring look easy, taking their first try less than two minutes into the game, when Callum Bruce crossed on the blindside untouched.
But then the indiscipline -- a spear tackle by captain Sione Lauaki, followed shortly by another card for collapsing the maul by hooker Aled de Malmanche, proved very costly for the visitors.
While Kahui may have scored while Lauaki was off the field, going down to 13 gave the Lions the edge they needed to score 22 points before the Chiefs were again at full strength.
Quick play through a tap penalty by JP Joubert sent Mjekevu away for his first try, with Todd Clever and Carlos Spencer also finding gaping holes to add their names to the scoresheet.
But back to 15 men, the Chiefs closed out the half with Stephen Donald stepping through Cobus Grobbelaar’s tackle to retake the lead.
In the first part of the second half, the Chiefs were unstoppable, with Liam Messam crossing the line and Kahui adding two more to his tally -- the last from a suicidal pass by Jonathan Mokuena.
But when Kahui was wrongly sent to the cooler for a spear tackle by Tim Nanai-Williams, the Lions grasped their opportunity against an exhausted New Zealand outfit.
Doppies la Grange made sure of the bonus point before Mjekevu scored twice and tries rained down on Chavhanga and Grobbelaar.
Sensing a second bonus point the Chiefs were penalised several times in the final minutes, with Jacques Lombaard claiming the try that sent the small 7000 crowd into rapture.
For the Lions:
Tries: Wandile Mjekevu(3), Todd Clever, Carlos Spencer, Doppies la Grange, Tonderai Chavhanga, Cobus Grobbelaar, Jacques Lombaard
Cons: Earl Rose(5), Burton Francis(2)
Pens: Earl Rose(2)
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Callum Bruce, Richard Kahui(3), Stephen Donald, Liam Messam, Junior Poluleuligaga, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Brendon Leonard
Cons: Stephen Donald(9)
Pens: Stephen Donald(3)
Yellow card: None Sione Lauaki(10m), Aled de Malmanche(22m), Richard Kahui(65m)
Red card: None
Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Todd Clever, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar (Captain), 5 Willem Stoltz, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Charles Emslie, 17 JC van Rensburg/Kevin Buys, 18 Jacques Lombaard, 19 Jonathan Mokuena, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Michael Killian.
Chiefs:15 Mike Delany, 14 Dwayne Sweeney, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Sione Lauaki (captain), 7 Luke Braid, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Nathan White, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements:16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.
Referee: Marius Jonker
Touch judges: Stuart Berry, Sindile Mayende
TV Match Official: Johann Meuwesen