Highlanders tame Lions for first Super 14 win


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The Highlanders survived second half stutters to post their first Super 14 win of the season with a 29-20 victory over fellow cellar dwellers the Lions on Friday.

The Highlanders, battling with an inexperienced team this year, nearly threw the game away when they squandered an 18-point lead, allowing the South Africans to within a point midway through the second half.

But a late penalty and a try by replacement back Aaron Bancroft ensured the four try to three victory and a welcome bonus point.

Highlanders captain Craig Newby said his side felt they were the better team throughout but eased off in the third quarter when the Lions scored three tries in just seven minutes.

“For 20 minutes there, it looked like we were going to capitulate but we dug deep and got over,” a relieved Newby said afterwards.

The Highlanders have reason to celebrate after six straight losses, most by narrow margins.

“Six games in a row to lose, it’s pretty tough and we’ve been doing it tough, playing really well and not getting over the line,” Newby said.

The Lions were outplayed for the first 41 minutes of the game, which saw them down 21-3 just after halftime.

But the Highlanders lost their focus, allowing the dangerous Lions outside backs the room to create tries for flyhalf Jaco van Schalkwyk, inside centre Walter Venter and number eight Willem Alberts.

Two of the tries came through a shaky Highlanders lineout turning over possession, although the Johannesburg-based team had their own problems with their scrum in the first spell.

The Lions opened the match brightly, moving the ball from one side through the backline but it was the Highlanders who opened the scoring through inside centre Johnny Leota in the ninth minute.

A clever offload by number eight Newby allowed Leota to cut inside and touch down in a move he repeated 20 minutes later.

From a set move at a scrum, Leota took a clever little pass from flyhalf James Wilson, which allowed him to again scythe inside the ragged Lions defence.

The Highlanders extended the lead to 18 points just a minute into the second spell when fullback Paul Williams, the son of former All Black winger Bryan Williams, showed the advantage of good genes.

He received the ball from a quick throw in, rounded a Lions forward and flew through acres of space to beat the cover defence to the line.

Wilson added nine points through three conversions and a penalty for the Highlanders while for the Lions, van Schalkwyk kicked a penalty and halfback Jano Vermaak kicked a conversion.


Final Score Highlanders 29 Lions 20 





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

Pen – James Wilson

Con -James Wilson (3)

Cards – Fetu’u Vainikolo (yellow) 



Tries –  Jaco van Schalkwyk,Walter Venter,Willem Alberts

Pen -Jaco van Schalkwyk

Con – Jaco van Schalkwyk



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.


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.


SAPA – AFP Super14.com   

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