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Marx leads Lions to victory over Sunwolves

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The Lions beat the Sunwolves 24-37 at the National Stadium, Singapore.

Malcolm Marx scored a brace as the Lions ran in six tries for a deserved away victory in humid conditions played under the lights of the Singapore National Stadium.

The Lions keep their unbeaten run going against the Sunwolves in a game they never looked like losing, despite playing with 14 men, early on.

It was a clinical performance from the South Africans who used their driving maul to dismantle the Sunwolves.

Tony Brown’s side was ill-disciplined at the breakdown and poor in the scrum set-piece.

They hampered themselves by being penalised several times in a good attacking position when the scores were close, early in the match.

Rahboni Warren Vosayaco scored two late tries after the break to give the scoreboard some respectability after the hosts trailed by 19 points in the final quarter.

Swys de Bruin’s men suffocated the Sunwolves, who could not put any sustained periods of pressure, together as their errors mounted.

Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe and Hacjivah Dayimani all crossed for the Lions after the break to kill the game as a contest.

Video Highlights: Sunwolves versus Lions

Marx had a stormer. He scored two first-half tries from driving mauls and won a try-saving turnover on his line to help the Lions to a slender halftime lead.

Sylvian Mahuza was yellow-carded for a professional foul, stopping a certain try with a deliberate knock down inside his 22.

The Sunwolves were awarded a penalty try but could not make their numerical advantage count, not being able to score while the winger was in the bin.

Sunwolves strike first blow

News of the Japanese franchise’s cull from Super Rugby might have meant the home team would not be focused.

There were no problems with that because they came out firing, running from their half – and even from behind their try line, late in the game.

Masataka Mikami combined with Ben Gunter and busted through a tackle and into the Lions’ 22.

Quick ball was recycled and sent wide by Hayden Parker. The following phase saw Mikami trying to push his front row partner Jiwon Koo over the line.

The prop believed he had scored, so did his teammates because they trudged back to their half, waiting for the restart.

Mr Minoru Fuji, the TMO did not see a grounding, telling the onfield referee Damon Murphy that Mikami did not get the ball on the line.

It was an odd call because the replays showed the loosehead had indeed placed the ball on the chalk. It was a baffling call. Two minutes later, they did get over.

This time they had a helping hand. The referee (after another TMO referral) sent Mahuza to the naughty step for a cynical knockdown.

Semisi Masirewa – who was outstanding and involved in all things good – tried to find the number eight, but Mahuza batted then kicked the loose ball away.

It almost certainly stopped Vosayaco from a simple walk-over score. Mr Murphy went to his pocket, then ran under the posts to signal for a penalty try.

The Marx show in Singapore

The Lions had spent 65% of the time inside their 22 during the opening quarter of an hour and needed to exit for some respite.

Ruan Vermaak went close, but he couldn’t get the ball on the chalk; however, the Sunwolves were guilty of hands in the ruck. Jantjies kicked to the corner.

A previous driving maul did not go to plan, so they wanted to get things right.

From the resulting set-piece, the forwards marched their opponents back, and Marx flopped over the whitewash. Simple.

The Sunwolves should have scored, but Masirewa was tackled short. He was isolated, and when the support finally arrived, Marx had got his hands on the ball, winning the try-saving penalty turnover.

Both teams were kicking for territory before Masariwa decided to put his foot down and start an attack.

The Sunwolves went through several phases before that man Marx won another turnover and penalty after Tom Rowe was isolated.

The hosts were shipping penalties inside the Lions’ half, killing any momentum they were building.

Tyrone Green, the impressive 21-year-old fullback, found himself with the ball at the back of another driving maul.

But perhaps his inexperience in the role went against him because the Lions pack split apart after thinking they had crossed the goal line, leaving Green short.

Another scrum-penalty before halftime brought back memories of the beasting the Sharks’ front row gave the home team in Singapore in the opening round of the tournament.

Jantjies kicked to the corner. The Lions set up a driving maul, and Marx crashed over for his second. Jantjies missed the conversion attempt, but his team had a lead.

Lions pull away after the break

Parker reduced the deficit with an early penalty. It was his 27th consecutive successful kick this season.

Hope was short-lived because De Bruin’s men had found the driving maul to their liking. Another scrum-penalty gave Marx a shot at a hat-trick.

This time the Japanese held firm, but cruelly, they still conceded from the set-piece.

Mapoe’s angled run towards the maul drew in the midfield and pillar defence. Groom spotted the gap left by Dan Pryer, who was attracted to Mapoe and darted over.

The scrumhalf was involved in Jantjies’ score three minutes later after he switched play to the blindside

His halfback partner attacked the space between Masirewa – who had given away the other penalty that set up the Lions’ attack – and Amanaki Mafi and powered his way over.

Brown’s men were fading fast. The Joburg side was starting to slow the game down. A good idea, especially in the humidity of south-east Asia.

Then came the moment of the match. A Lions turnover started the free-flowing attack.

Jantjies, from a deep position, held a pass long enough for Mapoe to attack the gain line. The centre sucked in two defenders with his angled run and released Aphiwe Dyanti through a hole.

The flyer raced into the opposition’s 22, found Groom, in support, with a lovely offload. He then gave a switch pass to Mapoe, who coasted in beside the posts. It was a thing of beauty.

Sunwolves did not give up

Grant Hattingh went close but lost possession in the act of grounding soon after Mapoe’s try.

It was a warning sign to the tourists that their hosts will play until the final whistle. From the next series, the Sunwolves won a penalty and took a scrum.

Mafi broke to the open side from the back of the scrum and powered his legs towards the try line.

It took six defenders to try and stop him. Once halted, the ball came quickly and to Vosayaco – the second best player on the pitch – and he crashed over from close.

Sensing a comeback, the Lions did what they hardly ever do: opt for a shot at goal.

They are the team with the least amount of penalties in the last few seasons because they always kick to the corner or take a scrum.

Jantjies made no mistake, pushing the lead to three scores with 10 to play. He missed another attempt soon after, but you suspect it was also an attempt to rest and run down the clock.

The flyhalf was at it again, this time with a lovely dink-lob to Dayimani. It was a beautiful kick straight out of the Beauden Barrett playbook.

There was time for Vosayaco to get another five-pointer when he took Parker’s delayed pass and beat a defender to score under the posts.

The game was up, but as a side note, Parker’s second conversion meant he has a record of 29 from 29 kicks this season, and he is 65 from 66 going back to last year’s Super Rugby edition – utterly bonkers.

Final Score: Sunwolves 24 (7) Lions 37 (12)

Scorers

Sunwolves
Tries – Penalty try, Vosayaco (2)
Pen – Parker
Con – Parker (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Lions
Tries – Marx (2), Groom, Jantjies, Mapoe, Dayimani
Pen – Jantjies
Con – Jantjies (2)
Drop –
Cards – Mahuza (Yellow, 7′)

Match Officials
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 2: Tawasaki Kawahara
TMO: Minoru Fuji

Teams

Sunwolves: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Gerhard Van Den Heever, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Ben Gunter, 5 Tom Rowe, 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Masataka Mikami.

Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Alex Woonton, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Amanaki Lelei Mafi, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Takuya Yamasawa, 23 Hosea Saumaki.

Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Ruan Vermaak, 7 Stephan Lewies, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (captain), 1 Sithembiso Sithole.

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Hacjivah Dayimani, 20 James Venter, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Gianni Lombard, 23 Aphiwe Dyanti

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