SIMON BORCHARDT saw the Golden Lions return to the top of the Currie Cup log with a 22-9 win against Western Province at Newlands.
The Lions led just 12-9 with 15 minutes to go before a moment of madness from De Kock Steenkamp gifted the visitors a crucial try. The second rower threw a no-look pass between his legs that was collected by winger Deon Helberg, who ran 60m to score.
However, the Lions’ hero was undoubtedly Butch James, who proved to be a more than able flyhalf replacement for Elton Jantjies. The 33-year-old directed his backline superbly and was successful with all five of his kicks at goal.
The Lions will look back on their defensive effort with pride (they made more than 100 tackles), while WP will rue their high number of handling errors and ill-discipline.
WP flank Tyrone Holmes, who was red carded for punching against the Sharks two weeks ago, was lucky not to be yellow carded in the second minute of this match when he shoulder charged James after the flyhalf had chipped ahead. James kicked the penalty from straight in front.
The Lions had 65% of the possession in the first 25 minutes but had little to show for it as Joe Pietersen’s penalty levelled the scores.
The rain started falling soon after, which made conditions difficult, but both sides still managed to hold onto the ball at times and put their opponents under pressure.
James edged the Lions ahead 9-3 with penalties either side of half-time, but Demetri Catrakilis made it all square with two penalties of his own.
The Lions were reduced to 14 men when James was harshly yellow carded for a high tackle on Marcel Brache, but they managed to keep WP scoreless during the next 10 minutes through committed defence, while adding three points of their own via winger Ruan Combrinck.
Then came that pass from De Kock Steenkamp that will give him a few sleepless nights. James kicked the conversion and added a penalty minutes later to secure a well deserved win.