Perfect start for the Lions


Coach Johan Ackermann’s team scored four tries – for a crucial bonus point – inside 16 minutes, with SA Sevens star Kwagga Smith getting two and backs Courtnal Skosan and Howard Mnisi both grabbing one each.

All four five-pointers were converted by Marnitz Boshoff and at 28-0 up, the game was all but done.

It was the perfect start for last year’s runners-up and one of the favourites to go all the way this season.

Smith added a third in the second half, with wing Anthony Volmink also grabbing a try.

Smith scored his first after just 47 seconds, rounding off after a stunning counter-attack from deep in the Lions’ own half following the kick-off.

Skosan got his try after a great run from quality line-out ball and in the 13th minute Mnisi finished off after another long range effort by his team.

Smith’s second try came after a magical off-load by scrumhalf Ross Cronjé, who enjoyed a very good outing.

The Lions dominated all areas of the match, but Ackermann will be somewhat concerned the line-out didn’t work as well as he would have liked, while at times his players’ option-taking wasn’t all that impressive.

But the inter-play between backs and forwards, the running lines and the support play of his men was top notch and if they continue in this vein they’ll be very hard to beat.

The Kings had their moments, but most of their ball came from the Lions making silly mistakes and it was hardly surprising one of these errors led to their only points of the opening stanza.

Sylvain Mahuza intercepted a loose pass by Cronjé and he ran in from 50m out to score under the uprights.

It was a forgettable showing by the Kings, who looked like a deer stuck in the headlights in the opening 20 minutes.

They offered little in attack, were dominated in the scrums and hardly offered any resistance in defence.

They’ve got a ton of work ahead of them if they’re to improve on the sole victory they managed in last year’s competition.

The Lions weren’t as clinical in the second period, but still overwhelmed their hosts.

The Kings, though, did get a second score through Simon Kerrod, but the unerring boot of Boshoff and further tries by Smith and Volmink ensured a comfortable victory for the men from Joburg.

Ackermann will be pleased with his team’s first hit out having had just one warm-up game after completing their Super Rugby schedule and will next host the Pumas at Ellis Park this weekend.

It should be a far stiffer test of the Lions’ strength after the men from Nelspruit surprised the Sharks with a well orchestrated win on Friday.

The Sunday Independent

Original source: Perfect start for the Lions