Highlanders

Highlanders break their duck

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The Highlanders picked up their first win of the 2008 Super 14 by beating the Lions 29-20. As an added bonus the Highlanders also picked up a bonus point for scoring four tries.



Center Johnny Leota scored two tries as the Highlanders held on for a 29-20 win over South Africa’s Lions in Super 14 rugby Friday.


Highlanders were moving easily toward its first win of the season – and first since April 2007 – when it led 21-3 after 41 minutes. But the Johannesburg-based Lions struck back with three tries in eight minutes in the second half to leave the Highlanders ahead 21-20.


A late penalty to flyhalf James Wilson and try three minutes from fulltime by replacement Aaron Bancroft sealed the win and a four-try bonus point for the Highlanders, consigning the Lions to defeat in the first match of a five-match Australasian tour.


“Six games in a row to lose is tough,” said Highlanders captain Craig Newby.


“We’ve been doing it tough up till now, playing well and not getting over the line.


“We got a bit excited tonight when we had that big lead. We knew we were better than them, we felt we were better than them and once we scored that easy try at the start of the second half we took our foot off the throat a bit.”


The Lions hit back hard, with tries to Jaco van Schalkwyk, Walter Venter and Willem Alberts. Jano Vermaak missed a conversion to Alberts’ try which would have given them the lead and the Highlanders regrouped for a stronger finish.


The Highlanders dominated territory in the first half and was able to use a powerful scrum to good advantage, wearing down the Lions. They scored first through Leota in the 11th minute, recycling possession quickly close to the Lions’ line then breaking the defense as Newby handed Leota a short pass in front of the posts.


The try was Leota’s first in Super 14 rugby and he added his second in the 30th minute, from a similar move which started at a scrum near the line. Wilson handed off a short pass to the center who hit the backline at pace and an angle which carried him through the last of the Lions’ defense.


Those tries and Wilson’s two conversions gave Otago a 14-3 lead at halftime.


The Highlanders started the second half brilliantly, with a try to fullback Paul Williams – son of former All Blacks’ winger Bryan Williams.


Newby threw the ball directly to Williams from a quick lineout and the fullback shrugged off an ineffective tackle and dashed almost 50 meters to score.


Flyhalf van Schalkwyk scored the South Africans’ first try in the 51st minute, midfielder Venter scored in the 55th and No. 8 Alberts scored off Venter’s break four minutes later to cut the deficit to a point.


 Final Score Highlanders 29 Lions 20 



 

Scorers

 

Highlanders

Tries – Johnny Leota (2),Paul Williams,Aaron Bancroft

Pen – James Wilson

Con -James Wilson (3)

Cards – Fetu’u Vainikolo (yellow) 

 

Lions


Tries –  Jaco van Schalkwyk,Walter Venter,Willem Alberts

Pen -Jaco van Schalkwyk

Con – Jaco van Schalkwyk

Teams


Highlanders


15. Paul Williams,14. Matt Saunders,13. Brett Mather,12. Johnny Leota,11. Fetu’u Vainikolo,10. James Wilson,9. Jimmy Cowan (VC),8. Craig Newby (C),7. Tim Boys,6. Hoani MacDonald,5. Tom Donnelly,4. Hayden Triggs,3. Clint Newlands,2. Jason Macdonald,1. Jamie Mackintosh


Reserves:16. David Hall,17. Chris King,18. Isaac Ross,19. Adam Thomson,20. Toby Morland,21. Daniel Bowden,22. Aaron Bancroft.


Lions


Louis Ludik, Dusty Noble, Jaco Pretorius, Walter Venter, Rayno Benjamin, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Jano Vermaak, Willem Alberts, Joe van Niekerk, Cobus Grobbelaar (capt.), Gerhard Mostert, Anton van Zyl, Eugene Maqwelana, Willie Wepener, Heinke van der Merwe.


Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Ross Geldenhuys, Dewald Senekal, Franco van der Merwe, Chris Jonck, Rudi Vogt, Jannie Boshoff.

 

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