The Golden Lions secured a home semifinal with a thrilling 27-26 win over Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
The result also denied the Kimberley side from finishing on top of the standings.
Both teams scored four tries in what was an entertaining game at Griqua Park.
The Lions opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Stean Pienaar intercepted a pass to sprint downfield for his team’s first try. Flyhalf Shaun Reynolds added the extra two points with the conversion.
Pienaar thought he scored a second try in the 15th minute when he stretched over the tryline. But the TMO deemed that he lost control of the ball before placing it.
The Lions eventually got their second try in the 24th minute when fullback Tyrone Green dived over the tryline after sustained pressure inside the Griquas’ 22.
It was starting to be one-way traffic with the Lions dominating most aspects of play. And that dominance turned into another try when Madosh Tambwe was put into space by Green inside the Griquas 22′ and the wing had too much power and pace for the home side’s defenders as he sprinted towards the tryline.
Green was successful with the conversion to give his team a 19-point lead.
However, it was Griquas how had the final say of the half when flank Gideon van der Merwe went over for his team’s first try after a powerful driving maul.
Whitehead added the extra two points with the conversion and at half-time it was 19-7 in favour of the Lions.
Griquas then got themselves closer in the 51st minute when hooker AJ Le Roux found himself over the Lions’ tryline with the ball after another powerful driving maul. Whitehead converted the try to reduce the deficit to just five points.
The home side completed their comeback in the 62nd minute when replacement hooker Wilmar Arnoldi crashed over for a converted try, which put Griquas in front by two points.
However, the Lions found themselves back in front in the 67th minute when Pienaar bamboozled a number of Griquas defenders to go over in the corner for his second try and his team’s fourth. Reynolds missed the conversion.
The drama continued after that when Van der Merwe scored his second and Griquas’ fourth after some enterprising play by Griquas on attack. Whitehead was unsuccessful with the conversion but they had a two-point lead going into the final 10 minutes.
With just five minutes left on the clock, the Lions regained the lead with a three-pointer from Reynolds.
That was enough as the Golden Lions held on for a one-point win.
Man of the match: George Whitehead and Andre Swarts were outstanding for Griquas on attack, while Sias Koen made his presence felt in open play. For the Golden Lions, Tyrone Green was a prominent figure once again, while Marnus Schoeman was a nuisance at the breakdowns. However, the award goes to Lions wing Stean Pienaar for his two tries and his overall work rate around the park.
Tries: Van der Merwe 2, Le Roux, Arnoldi
Cons: Whitehead 3
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Pienaar 2, Green, Tambwe
Cons: Reynolds 2
Griquas: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Chriswill September, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Nqobisizwe Mxoli.
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 Johan Momsen, 19 Conway Pretorius, 20 Christiaan Meyer, 21 Chris Smit, 22 Bjorn Basson, 23 Ruan Kramer.
Golden Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Duncan Matthews, 11 Stean Pienaar, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje (captain), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Ruben Schoeman, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jan-Louis la Grange, 23 Jamba Ulengo.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe
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