Currie Cup

Lions start Currie Cup defence with Cheetahs win

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The Lions kicked off their Currie Cup title defence with a 43-20 bonus point victory over the Free State Cheetahs at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.

The current Currie Cup champions scored four tries for a bonus point and Butch James contributed 21 points with a faultless eight from eight kicks.

Except for the third quarter, when the Cheetahs fielded a number of replacements and came back strongly, the Lions were in control throughout.

The Lions led 23-6 at halftime, including two fine tries.

They had dominated possession and territory, scrummed well and were impressive with their drives from lineouts.

The forwards were quicker to the breakdown than Free State, and at the back the Lions were full of running and spread the ball wide whenever possible.

They also won turnovers when it mattered most – notably on two occasions just after the break when Free State pressured the Lions’ tryline and looked like reducing the 17-point deficit.

After one of those turnovers the Lions nearly scored at the other end -but then the Cheetahs turned over possession and Sarel Pretorius, with some nifty footwork, scored under the posts. However, the new referral system cost the visitors as the awarded try was overturned and a scrum ordered 60 metres back.

However, it was only a temporary setback and young wing Raymond Rhule scored two scintillating tries in a great fight back, with only Butch James’s fourth penalty keeping the Lions’ score going.

The Lions lead had shrunk from 23-6 to 26-20 with 18 minutes’ play left before Lions lock Hendrik Roodt galloped in following a good Lions build-up.

James converted for a full house of seven kicks (33-20) and then made it eight with his fifth penalty with seven minutes remaining (36-20).

In another first for these two teams the trial Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) was implemented 11 minutes into the match when Lions lock Hendrik Roodt left the field to be assessed.

He returned a few minutes later to make an impressive contribution that included a great try – and the PSCA was used on a number of other occasions, with the players passed fit every time.

Final Score Golden Lions 43 Free State Cheetahs 20

Scorers

Golden Lions
Tries – Minnie, Coetzee, Roodt, Combrinck
Pen – James 5
Con – James 3, G Cronje
Drop –
Cards –

Free State Cheetahs
Tries – Rhule 2
Pen – Smit 2
Con – Smit 2
Drop –
Cards –

Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistants: Joey Salmans, Cobus Wessels

Teams

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (c), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Pieter van Zyl, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Lappies Labuschagné, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen (v/c), 4 Waltie Vermeulen, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.

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