Lions' youth revolution continues
The youth revolution continued at the Xerox Lions as they scored their fifth straight victory in this year’s Absa Currie Cup by downing Griquas 40-29 at Coca Cola Park on Saturday.
Led by early assaults by fullback Jaco Taute and the trusted boot of Elton Jantjies, the Lions grabbed the full five points in an entertaining game where both teams did their best to entertain.
In the end it was the Lions through their superior loose trio, as well as the ability to take the chances where it counts, that took the victory. As with last week against the Cheetahs, Dawie Theron’s side will be kicking themselves for not taking the chances when it counted.
Still, John Mitchell’s hand at resurrecting the Lions challenge is very apparent as they moved temporarily into second spot on the Currie Cup log and have every right to think about a possible semifinal now.
Griquas were out in front early, countering the first penalty of Jantjies with a perfect break by Naas Olivier to put Rocco Jansen in at the corner for a TMO-assisted try.
But the Lions kept up the pressure and were rewarded with two more penalties to the Lions pivot, who is certainly one of the finds of the season.
Prop Jean Botha burst over in the corner, giving Griquas the lead again, but it wasn’t long before impressive young flanker Josh Strauss complemented his hard running by crashing over for a try after the defence was stretched on the other side.
Olivier brought his side back within one point with a penalty on the half hour, but in the 10 minutes before and after halftime the Lions took control of the game and never looked back through a brace of Jaco Taute tries.
Taute scored after the hooter as the Lions again stretched the Griquas defence by first punching up the middle, and then going wide.
A yellow card to Ryno Barnes early in the second half tilted the game in the Lions' favour, especially as Jantjies grabbed three more points from the penalty.
But it was the attack shortly afterwards that ripped it from Griquas’ grasp. Flanker Derick Minnie found an easy way through two tackles, popping up the ball to Jano Vermaak who burst ahead to send wide to Taute, who sprinted 50 metres to the line to give his team their bonus point and a healthy lead.
Sarel Pretorius’ appearance on the field led to Griquas striking back as he showed great interplay with Riaan Viljoen, the latter doing most of the work before sending the ball wide for Bjorn Basson to run in an easy try.
Taute was again in the action as he put Jannie Boshoff into the perfect gap to decimate the Griquas defence and ensure the Lions had got their victory. Not even a late try by substitute Rudi Vogt could do any more than give the scoreline some respectability.
Lions – tries: Jaco Taute (2), Josh Strauss, Jannie Boshoff. Conversions: Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (4).
Griquas – tries: Jean Botha, Rocco Jansen, Bjorn Basson, Rudi Vogt. Conversions: Naas Olivier (2), Rudi Vogt. Penalties: Olivier (1)