Lions hold on to tame ‘Tahs

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They produced yet another stunning performance last night, seeing off the defending champions to bag their ninth win of the campaign.

Johan Ackermann’s men have won some big matches this year – think of the three overseas – and the victories over the Bulls and Highlanders, but this will satisfy the players and coach more than any other.

Ackermann was genuinely a little worried going into this game and rightly so.

The Waratahs are a class side packed with Wallabies, they’re the defending champions and they play a style of rugby very similar to that of the Lions. They’re powerful up front and extremely dangerous at the back – and they were all of that last night.

It’s not as if the Lions won this game convincingly or dominated any specific area; it’s just that they happened to score more points than their opponents on the night.

Both teams produced quality performances; the Lions, though, won the big moments and their defence was especially impressive.

The four points earned kept them in seventh position and in with a shout of reaching the play-offs, but they’ll have to beat the Stormers at Newlands this weekend and then hope a few results go their way on the final weekend when they have a bye.

But even if they don’t make it, Ackermann and his charges can be extremely proud of their showing this season.

There can be no doubt the Lions play the most attractive brand of rugby in the country and aren’t afraid to take chances.

They play with freedom and they play with passion.

And they’ve got a few big stars in the making – if they aren’t already.

The forwards were outstanding, holding their own in the scrums and line-outs and matching everything the ’Tahs threw at them at the breakdowns.

In fact, the Lions bossed the scrums where the front row again stood very, very tall.

Jaco Kriel was the star of the show, though, busting through tackles, winning his team plenty of metres and making big hits to boot.

Franco Mostert wasn’t far behind and neither was Warren Whiteley.

And out wide, Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies again ran the show.

The pairing of Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe is the best in the competition, but last night belonged to wing Ruan Combrinck.

He scored two outstanding tries and had a hand in a number of the Lions’ attacking moves, this being his coming-of-age performance in a Lions jersey.

Combrinck was up against some heavy hitters in the ’Tahs team, men like Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale and the monster wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, but he came out on top of all of them last night.

The ’Tahs played their part in this exciting clash, their backs asking plenty of the Lions and after 80 minutes it was probably Ackermann’s team’s defence that got them through.

Sure, the Tahs scored three tries, but the Lions’ in-your-face defence forced the visitors into a number of errors, which the Lions turned in their favour.

This will be a performance – and victory – the fans will remember for a long time.

It was, in a word, sensational. – The Sunday Independent

Ellis Park

Lions (17) 27

Tries: Combrinck (2), Vorster; Conversions: Jantjies (3); Penalties: Jantjies (2)

Waratahs (10) 22

Tries: Hoiles, Ashley-Cooper, Horne; Conversions: Foley (2); Penalty: Foley

Original source: Lions hold on to tame ‘Tahs

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