Lions overwhelm Valke
The MTN Golden Lions overcame a messy first half to overwhelm the Valke 59-29 in their Vodacom Cup match at Wits University on Saturday.
The neighbouring teams were locked at 21-21 at halftime, the Lions having conceded two soft tries, but a jolly good shouting to at the break obviously did the trick as they attacked with verve and precision in the second half, providing good entertainment for the small crowd.
Centre Ruan Combrinck and wing Anthony Volmink both scored two tries for the Lions, who crossed the line nine times in total for their first win of the season.
Valke flyhalf Juan Kotze opened the scoring in the third minute with a penalty after the Lions were blown up for collapsing a scrum on their own ball, and the visitors also scored the first try of the match four minutes later.
The Lions lost the ball on attack in sloppy fashion and wing Kyle Hendricks pounced, outstripping the cover defence in superb fashion as he sped clear from 55 metres to score.
Kotze converted and the Valke were 10-0 up. The Lions finally made it into the opposition 22 after 15 minutes, but flank Jaco Kriel, one of the hardest-working players on the field, twice lost the ball close to the tryline. The Lions kept up the pressure, however, with the Valke eventually running out of numbers as flyhalf Andries Coetzee went over on the left-hand side.
Coetzee converted his own try to close the gap to three points, but the Valke scored again from the kickoff. They were fortunate as one of their passes went to ground, but Kotze kicked the ball through and was able to follow up and dot down, although he failed to kick the easy conversion (7-15).
The Lions scored again in the 29th minute when their rolling maul pushed the Valke back, lock Paul Willemse eventually barging his way over the line from close range. Coetzee converted and the Lions had closed to within a point.
Kriel's powerful influence didn't always bring reward for the Lions, as in the 31st minute when he stormed off a lineout inside his own 22 but his teammates then went off their feet at the ruck, presenting Kotze with a penalty (14-18).
The home side eventually went ahead in the 34th minute as fullback James Kamana inspired their third try with a mazy 60-metre run that put outside centre Combrinck into space for his first try.
Coetzee converted (21-18), but the Valke drew level in first-half injury-time as a great break by centre Coert Cronje earned Kotze another penalty.
The Lions were a changed side after the break, and the Valke were blown away by two tries in the first seven minutes.
The backline made sweeping attacks left and right, with Combrinck scoring his second try and the great hands of Kamana then putting wing Michael Killian away for the Lions' fifth try, Coetzee's excellent conversion stretching the lead to 33-21.
The Lions had some legal problems with the offside line in the 55th minute, giving Kotze another penalty (33-24), but their slick attacking systems produced a big overlap four minutes later, right wing Volmink throwing the dummy and stepping inside to score.
Stephan de Wit stretched over to score and seal the game for the Lions in the 66th minute, Coetzee converting to make the score 45-24, but there was some doubt as to whether the home side should have been given the try as the flank appeared to lose the ball as he dotted down. The try was awarded after the touch judge gave his recommendation to referee Ben Crouse.
Valke scrumhalf Jaco Snyman burst through a massive gap next to a ruck to score and give the visitors some cheer, but replacement prop Francois du Toit and Volmink crossed in the last six minutes to complete an emphatic victory for the Lions.
MTN Golden Lions - Tries: Andries Coetzee, Paul Willemse, Ruan Combrinck (2), Michael Killian, Anthony Volmink (2), Stephan de Wit, Francois du Toit. Conversions: Coetzee (5), Marais Schmidt (2).
Valke - Tries: Kyle Hendricks, Juan Kotze, Jaco Snyman. Conversion: Kotze. Penalties: Kotze (4).