Griquas compound Lions misery

A superb second half fight back secured a dramatic 27-23 Absa Currie Cup win for Griquas over the Lions in Kimberley on Saturday.

The Lions led 20-11 at half-time and 23-17 with just seven minutes left on the clock. But a fantastic team try that ended with fullback Zane Kirchner dotting down gave Griquas a narrow 24-23 lead.

Then flyhalf Conrad Barnard slotted a drop-goal with four minutes left that ultimately left the Lions with too much to do. They did earn a bonus point for finishing within seven points.

The win maintains Griquas’ undefeated home record – after previous victories over the Pumas and Sharks – while the Lions suffered their fourth loss in five matches. Their chances of making the semi-finals now hang by a thread.

Griquas were first on the board when, against the run of play Lafras Uys and Alshaun Bock, combined for a good try after just five minutes. It was the Lions though that were dominating territory.

They were rewarded on 13 minutes when Wayne Julies glided through for a fine individual try. The home team were slowly getting into the game, but scrumhalf JP Joubert spoiled a good scoring chance by blatantly stamping on Willem Stoltz in the 18th minute.

And while he was off the field, Griquas leaked six points from the boot of Earl Rose and counting the penalty reversal at the time of the incident, it was a nine point swing.

Nevertheless, Griquas trailed by just five points upon Joubert’s return. And that became two points (13-11) four minutes later as the home side continued to upset the visitors’ rhythm.

In the 37th minute, it was the Lions turn to lose a man when hooker Etthienne Reyneke was shown a yellow card by referee Marius Jonker. He never returned to the fray as coach Eugene Eloff subbed him with Andre van Niekerk as soon as he was eligible to return.

Crucially though it was the Lions who scored next when a wonderful try was rounded off by scrumhalf Jano Vermaak.

From turnover ball, the initial drive came from Ernst Joubert, who found captain Wikus van Heerden. He off-loaded to Rose in the tackle and the flyhalf then made a superb flip pass to put Vermaak away for a 50m gallop to the line.

Rose converted and the Lions had a nine point cushion at the break. Thereafter it was all the home team as the Lions failed to hold onto what possession they got. Far too many errors ultimately cost the Lions and Griquas made them pay.

The home side pulled three points back while the Lions were still down to 14 men and then Barnard kicked another penalty to make the score 20-17 to the visitors.

The Griquas pack were dominating as they had done throughout the 80 minutes, but Andre Pretorius on as a replacement at flyhalf kicked an easy penalty to make it 23-17.

Griquas, despite missing twice as many tackles as the Lions, continued to fight and were rewarded with an excellent try seven minutes from time that had the Lions defenders grasping at air. And the Griquas fans dancing on their seats.

Griquas remain in fifth place on 13 points, just two behind the fourth-placed Blue Bulls, while the Lions are a place behind them, but with just seven log points.

Scorers:

Griquas - Tries: Alshaun Bock (5th min), Zane Kirchner (73rd min)
Conversions: Conrad Barnard (73rd min)
Penalties: Barnard 3 (15th min, 46th min, 51st min), Herkie Kruger (32nd min)
Drop-goals: Barnard (76th min)

Lions - Tries: Wayne Julies (13th min), Jano Vermaak (39th min)
Conversions: Earl Rose 2 (13th min, 39th min)
Penalties: Rose 2 (22nd min, 27th min), Andre Pretorius 1 (65th min)

Teams:

Griquas: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Alshaun Bock, 13 Lafras Uys, 12 Herkie Kruger, 11 Vuyani Dlomo, 10 Conrad Barnard, 9 JP Joubert; 8 Frans Viljoen, 7 Gareth Krause (captain), 6 Heinrich Stride, 5 Windpomp van Rooyen, 4 Evan Botha, 3 Hedley Wessels, 2 Willie Wepener and 1 Jane du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Wayne van Heerden, 19 Jacques Burger, 20 Tertius Carse, 21 Brendell Brandt, 22 Tiger Mangweni.

Lions: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Grant Esterhuizen, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Jano Vermaak; 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Wikus van Heerden (captain), 5 Willem Stoltz, 4 Cobus Grobler, 3 Bertus Smit, 2 Etthienne Reyneke, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Andre van Niekerk, 17 Gert Muller, 18 Cobus Grobbelaar, 19 Bernard Roland, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Andre Pretorius, 22 Dewey Swartbooi.

By Andrew Hollely