Thrilling Griquas lash Lions

Griquas ran in five tries in a breathless performance that saw them down the Lions 42-32 at Ellis Park.

Griquas burnt white-hot from the the outset and while many would point to generous defence from the Lions, the visitors produced some inspired, expansive play which set up the victory.

The Lions simply could not cope with their physicality at the gainline, which allowed them to play with the pace and width they did. Their primary challenge was always going to be the sustainability of that approach. Ultimately they hung on and found something in reserve at the death when it appeared the Lions would steal it.

The Lions were gifted their first try, Ross Cronje collecting a spilled ball and racing to the tryline unchallenged. But Griquas responded with a double strike, the first to winger Rocco Jansen off the back of powerful phase play, while a Willie le Roux break down the touchline and a slick passing interchange set up Jannie Boshoff. Francois Brummer converted both tries to go with a couple of penalties.

The Lions scored straight from the restart, but this failed to deflate Griquas who continued their onslaught and profited just before the break, Ryno Barnes powering over to take his side to a 28-18 lead going down the tunnel.

Griquas coach Pote Human would have hoped his charges’ fitness didn’t betray them. Le Roux, however, gave them further breathing room with a try early in the half, the Griquas’ forwards depleting their opponents’ defensive line and creating a mismatch the fullback exploited to score the bonus-point try.

They held on admirably thereafter, despite their attacking tempo being visibly slowed, while their defensive punch, which had blunted the Lions, was patently reduced. This cost them, Lions winger Anthony Volmink exploiting exhausted defenders to score a converted brace in two minutes to make it a three point game (35-32) with 10 minutes to play.

The Lions looked likely to land the killer blow but Griquas refused to relent and produced an amazing try, birthed in their own 22m and played through 16 phases, to win a match they so desperately needed to to maintain hope of a semi-final placing.