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Lions down Crusaders and book Super Rugby Semi-final

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South Africa’s Lions beat the Crusaders 42-25 at Ellis Park and booked a home Super Rugby Semi-final next weekend in Johannesburg.

The Lions will play the third highest seed in their Semi-final so they will play either the Stormers or the Highlanders next week.

Should the Stormers beat the Chiefs then the Lions will play the Stormers but if the Chiefs beat the Stormers then the Lions will play the Highlanders.

Should the Lions win that match and the Hurricanes win their Semi-final the Lions will have to travel to Wellington for the final.

The Lions are the first South African team to win their quarter-final which prevents a clean sweep of victories by the New Zealand teams.

The Lions victory ends a seven match losing streak by the Lions to the Crusaders.  Franco Mostert was named man of the match.

The Lions won in convincing style as they outscored the Crusaders by five tries to three in the match.

Earlier in the round, New Zealand teams, Highlanders and Hurricanes, ran out winners in the first two quarterfinals with wins over the Brumbies (Australia) and the Sharks (South Africa) respectively.

Had the Lions not stopped the Crusaders, the prospects of an all-New Zealand semifinal round loomed since the Chiefs are favoured to defeat the Stormers in the weekend’s final play-off match.

The Lions took just two minutes to open the scoring as flyhalf Elton Jantjies drew in a number of Crusaders defenders before offloading to wing Courtnall Skosan who darted through the gap and dotted down in the corner. Jantjies missed the conversion from the touch-line, but the Lions had opened up a 5-0 lead.

The Crusaders were reduced to 14-men in the sixth minute when lock Luke Romano was sin-binned by referee Craig Joubert as a Lions maul was illegally held up just short of the line.

On the next attack, centre Rohan Janse Van Rensburg capitalised on more good Lions forward play as he barged over for a try. Jantjies was on target on this occasion as the hosts moved out to a 12-0 advantage.

Jantjies increased the score to 15-0 with a penalty on the quarter-hour mark.

The Crusaders finally made an impression on the scoreboard when flyhalf Richie Mo’unga slotted a penalty to make it 15-3.

It was then the turn of the Crusaders to cross the whitewash for the first time in the 33rd minute, as centre Ryan Crotty dived over under the posts after the visitors had camped in the Lions 22. Mo’unga added the extra two to make it 15-10.

On the cusp of half-time, the Lions were awarded a penalty in the Crusaders 22. Instead of taking the points on offer, captain Warren Whiteley opted to go for touch in what was a bold decision.

The move paid off as another powerful Lions maul saw Malcolm Marx fall down over the line for the try. Jantjies was successful with the conversion as the Lions went into the break 22-10 up.

Mo’unga pulled another three points back in the 47th minute for the Crusaders to make it 22-13.

Jantjies restored the 12-point lead at 25-13 for the Lions with a well-taken drop-kick in the 54th minute.

The Lions number 10 was on the mark once again in the 62nd minute with another penalty to take the score to 28-13.

Replacement Mitchell Drummond struck back with a try for the Crusaders after an overhead kick from the visitors caught the Lions on the back foot. Mo’unga nudged over the conversion from in front to get within eight of the Lions at 28-20.

After a frenetic period of play, Lions centre Lionel Mapoe made a sniping break inside his own half through the Crusaders defence, before passing to wing Ruan Combrinck who added the finishing touches to dot down under the posts. Jantjies tapped over the conversion to see the Lions out to a crucial 15-point lead at 35-20 with just over 10 minutes left to play.

Ross Cronje sealed the game as a contest after the Lions showed quick hands down the line before an overhead kick allowed the replacement scrumhalf to gather and score the try. Jantjies knocked over the conversion, and the win, with the score at 42-20 in favour of the home side with just a matter of minutes remaining.

With time just about up, Ben Volavola scored a consolation try for the Crusaders to make it a slightly more respectable 42-25 scoreline.

With this result, the second-seeded Lions will be joined by Highlanders (5th seeds), top seeds Hurricanes and the winner of the Stormers-Chiefs match in the semi-finals.

Final Score Lions 42 (22) Crusaders 25 (10)

Scorers

Lions
Tries – C.Skosan,  R. Janse Van Rensburg, M.Marx, R.Combrinck, R.Cronje
Pen – E. Jantjies 3
Con – E. Jantjies 3
Drop –
Cards – E. Jantjies

Crusaders
Tries – R.Crotty, M.Drummond, B.Volavola
Pen – R.Mo’unga 2
Con – R.Mo’unga 2
Drop –
Cards – L.Romano (5th min yellow)

Match Officials
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Ref 1: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2:Rasta Rasivhenge
TMO : Marius Jonker

Teams

Lions

1 Dylon Smith , 2 Malcolm Marx , 3 Julian Redelinghuys , 4 Andries Ferreira , 5 Franco Mostert , 6 Jaco Kriel , 7 Warwick Tecklenburg , 8 Warren Whiteley (c) , 9 Faf De Klerk , 10 Elton Jantjies , 11 Courtnal Skosan , 12 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg , 13 Lionel Mapoe , 14 Ruan Combrinck , 15 Andries Coetzee

Replacements: 16 Armand Van Der Merwe , 17 Corne Fourie , 18 Jacques Van Rooyen , 19 Ruan Ackermann , 20 Cyle Brink , 21 Ross Cronje , 22 Howard Mnisi , 23 Jaco Van Der Walt/Sylvian Mahuza

Crusaders

1. Wyatt Crockett ,2. Codie Taylor , 3. Owen Franks , 4. Luke Romano , 5. Sam Whitelock , 6. Jordan Taufua 7. Matt Todd , 8. Kieran Read (C) , 9. Andy Ellis , 10. Richie Mo’unga , 11. Jone Macilai , 12. David Havili , 13. Ryan Crotty , 14. Johnny McNicholl , 15. Israel Dagg

Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell , 17. Alex Hodgman, 18. Mike Alaalatoa, 19. Scott Barrett, 20. Jimmy Tupou , 21. Mitchell Drummond, 22. Ben Volavola, 23. Kieron Fonotia

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