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Rugby | Currie Cup

Lions qualify for semifinals



The Xerox Golden Lions claimed the final semifinal berth on offer when they beat and eliminated the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 44-17 (half-time 13-10) in their Currie Cup Premier Division rugby match at Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg, on Saturday.

The result means the Lions will travel to face DHL Western Province in the first semi and the Sharks will host the Bulls in the other next weekend.

With only one spot in the semifinals up for grabs and possibly another by permutation, both teams were desperate for the win in what was essentially a “quarterfinal” situation.

The Cheetahs started the game with their Guinness PRO14 line-up, which is on a two-week break from the northern hemisphere competition. Only Sergeal Petersen and Francois Venter were not considered due to injuries.

The Lions strengthened their squad with Springboks Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan and Ross Cronje in the starting line-up with national team hooker Malcolm Marx on the bench.

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The Lions turned down an early attempt at poles, opting for a lineout and the decision was a good one as the Lions spread it wide for left wing Skosan to score the easiest of tries in the fourth minute.

Flyhalf Jaco van der Walt added the extra two points.

Cheetahs flyhalf Ernst Stapelberg and Van der Walt exchanged penalties for the Lions to lead 10-3 after 18 minutes.

Van der Walt added another three almost on the half-hour but the Cheetahs struck back against the run of play on 35 minutes.

With the Lions on the attack, Cheetahs left wing Makazole Mapimpi intercepted the ball to speedily cover all of 70m to score under the posts at the other end.

Stapelberg added the extras from the tee and it was 13-10 to the Lions at half time.

Soon after the restart, the Lions got their second try of the game when strongly-built flank Cyle Brink powered his way up the left flank to score in the corner.

Van der Walt kicked the difficult conversion and then added another penalty and the Lions led 23-10 through 50 minutes.

The Cheetahs launched a number of attacks but numerous handling errors at crucial moments cost them dearly.

Skosan put the result beyond doubt for the home side with 10 minutes remaining as replacement Marx off-loaded for the flyer to ease his way over the tryline for his second try of the game.

Van der Walt kept his 100 percent record from the kicking tee in the match by slotting the conversion.

Flank Kwagga Smith secured the bonus-point try following good supportive play and Van der Walt landed the extra two points to finish with a personal tally of 17.

Cheetahs flank Paul Schoeman did manage a consolation score for Stapelberg to convert just before the hooter.

But the Lions had the last laugh as replacement Robert Kruger intercepted to score his team’s fifth try with time already up on the stadium clock.

SCORERS:

Golden Lions – Tries: Courtnall Skosan (2), Cyle Brink. Robert Kruger, Kwagga Smith; Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (4), Andries Coetzee; Penalties: Jaco van der Walt (3)

Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Paul Schoeman; Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (2); Penalties: Ernst Stapelberg



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