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Lions survive Sunwolves scare

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The Lions held off a spirited Sunwolves with a 40-38 win at Ellis Park, Johannesburg and spare their blushes.

It was an 11-try thriller in the City of Gold, but not a golden performance by the Lions.

It was, however, a vintage away-day for the team from Tokyo.

However, they are still searching for their first win on foreign soil.

But this was no disgrace, especially after last year’s 94-7 humiliation on the Highveld.

Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s 72-minute score saved the Lions from a humiliating defeat.

Malcolm Marx grabbed a brace along with tries by Andries Coetzee, Lourens Erasmus, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Janse van Rensburg.

The Sunwolves were magnificent, but their set-pieces let them down, losing four lineouts and conceding Erasmus’ try from a tighthead.

The visitors kept pace with the Lions, taking a 26-31 lead on 60 minutes after tries by Kotaro Matsushima, Craig Millar, Hosea Saumaki, Kazuki Himeno.

Marx crossed for his second and Elton Jantjies’ conversion gave the home team a two-point 33-31 lead.

Janse van Rensburg’s late try sealed the game for last season’s runners-up.

But, the Japanese side did not give up.

Atsushi Sakate’s long-range try on 79 minutes gave them one last shot at a famous victory, but it was not to be.

Jimmy Toupou kicked his team into a three-point lead before Coetzee’s opening try.

It came from Marx’s midfield break and long skip-pass to the fullback on the touchline, who raced away to score.

The Sunwolves’ set-piece was creaking. And after losing a couple of lineouts, they conceded a try from a tighthead.

Erasmus dived on the loose ball after it squirted out the side of the scrum.

Matsushima crashed over almost immediately to reduce the deficit, but the Lions hit back through Marx after a powerful driving maul.

Just after the half-hour, Millar crossed after a cheeky little dink from captain Yutaka Nagare.

Ross Cronje was stripped of the ball by Saumaki. Two passes later, the prop had reduced the Lions lead to four before Tupou made it 19-17 at half-time.

The game continued in similar fashion after the interval.

Dyantyi charged down Harumichi Tatekawa’s kick straight after the restart, resulting in the wing getting his fifth try of the campaign.

Saumaki scored from a wonderful double skip-pass move from the scrum. He beat Janse van Rensburg, Coetzee and Dyamtyi before scoring in the corner.

Tupou’s conversion made it a two-point ball game at 26-24.

It got better for the tourists when Himeno intercepted Jantjies’ poor pass and ran away under the sticks.

The Sunwolves had a shock five-point lead, although, it only lasted a couple of minutes before Marx was in for his double.

Jantjies’ conversion put the Lions back in front.

Janse van Rensburg, on the reverse, finished the game but not before Sakate’s try claimed a losing bonus-point for the visitors.

Final score: Lions 40 (19) Sunwolves 38 (17)

Scorers

Lions
Tries – Coetzee, Erasmus, Marx (2), Dyantyi, Janse van Rensburg
Pen –
Con – Jantjies (5)
Drop –
Cards –

Sunwolves
Tries – Matsushima, Millar, Saumaki, Himeno, Sakate
Pen – Tupou
Con – Tupou (3), Nakamura (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 1: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 2: Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Willie Vos

Teams

Lions

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Francois Mostert, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Jacobus Adriaanse, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Shaun Reynolds.

Sunwolves

15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Lomano Lemeki, 13 William Tupou, 12 Michael Little, 11 Hosea Saumaki, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Yutaka Nagare (captain), 8 Michael Leitch (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Wimpie van der Walt, 4 Kazuki Himeno, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Craig Millar.

Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Willem Britz, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Ryoto Nakamura, 23 Ryuji Noguchi.

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