Lions do the business in Bloem

GARETH DUNCAN writes a try on either side of half-time propelled the Golden Lions to a 38-23 bonus-point victory over the Free State Cheetahs.

The Lions’ second and third try of the game proved to be the telling scores in Bloemfontein.

During the closing stages of the opening 40, the Cheetahs held on to a 16-13 lead before wing Ruan Combrinck finished off a smart backline move. The speedster ran on to a pop pass from flyhalf Elton Jantjies and beat two defenders to secure a 20-16 advantage at the break.

Shortly after the second-half restart, outside centre Lionel Mapoe broke the defensive line and created a try for speedster Deon Helberg, who was in support on his outside. Combrinck completed his brace four minutes from the final whistle to secure maximum log points for his team.

Jantjies also played a key role with boot as he slotted seven of his nine goal attempts (three conversions and four penalties).

The visitors enjoyed a strong start to the match as they grabbed an early 13-3 buffer. Jantjies’ opening two penalties was followed by a Franco van der Merwe intercept try.

Free State went ahead thanks to tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe and the boot of wing Nico Scheepers (a conversion and three penalties).

But the hosts stifled after Combrinck’s score late in the first half and struggled to build momentum after the break. Van der Merwe crossed the chalk for the Cheetahs’ only score in the second stanza, but it was only consolation as the Lions powered to a well-deserved away win.