Lions sneak into Craven Week showdown

GARETH DUNCAN watched Lions flyhalf Jaco van der Walt kick an injury-time penalty for a 19-18 win over KZN in day four’s feature match at the U18 Craven Week in Kimberley.

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It was heartbreak for KZN as they seemed to have clinched a great comeback victory. Through a strong second half display, they were 18-16 ahead after trailing 16-5 at half-time. But with seconds left on the clock, the Lions were awarded a penalty 40m from in front of the posts. Van der Walt showed great BMT to keep his cool and slot the challenging kick through the middle for the match-winning score.

KZN started off brightly as a slick backline move saw wing Siyabonga Tom step inside to beat several defenders on his way to the chalk. The Lions then rallied into a 11-point advantage at the break as Van der Walt kicked three penalties and a conversion while fullback C-Than Moos showed great pace to break down the right touchline after intercepting a loose pass.

KZN head coach Barend Steyn brought on flyhalf Robert du Preez early in the second half, which proved to be an influential substitution. Du Preez played a part in the build up of one of Tom’s two penalties and he created outside centre Tyler Fisher’s try with a pop-up pass from close range. KZN also showed a strong guard to keep the Lions scoreless for 34 minutes after the restart, but a last-minute breakdown infringement cost them the game.

The Lions (who won both their games against EP and KZN) will now face Free State (who beat the Pumas and Bulls) in the unofficial final on Saturday. This will be Free State’s third consecutive unofficial.

Lions 19 KZN 18
Lions – Tries: C-Than Moos. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt. Penalties: Van der Walt (4).
KZN – Tries: Siyabonga Tom, Tyler Fisher. Conversions: Tom. Penalties: Tom (2).