Wing Tyrone Green scored two tries to inspire the Lions to a 27-20 victory over a gutsy Reds side at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Lions and Reds came into this encounter on the hunt for a maiden victory this season after suffering defeats in the opening round.
The game itself was played in a weird fashion. The Reds clearly had the ascendancy at the set pieces, while the Lions dominated territory and possession, but neither side managed to outright control the match.
It was a see-saw contest in the first half, as the teams reached the 15th-minute mark locked at 10-10. Wing Tyrone Green scored two unconverted tries in the right and left corners of the field, while the Reds got their points via a fortuitous try and a penalty.
The Lions’ struggles at the set phases cost them and after conceding yet another scrum penalty, this time within kicking range, fullback Bryce Hegarty knocked over a second penalty to put the visitors in front.
On their part, the Lions had plenty of scoring opportunities, but staunch Reds defence kept them at bay. But somehow, right on the stroke of half time, the Lions managed to hang on to the ball at a lineout and Marnus Schoeman stormed over. Captain Elton Jantjies landed the conversion for a 17-13 lead at the break.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half was messy. The Reds lost their tighthead prop and his replacement to yellow cards in quick succession and had to offer up two backline players to another prop to anchor the scrum. And still the Lions could not hold it together at the set piece with the Reds continuing their stranglehold at scrum time.
The match sparked into life by the start of the fourth quarter. The Reds had worked their way downfield, and won three consecutive scrum penalties on the 5m line. On the fourth attempt, they got the ball out, spread it wide and back in-field again before livewire scrumhalf Tate McDermott sold a dummy to dot down under the posts.
However, the Lions saved their best for last as they ran the ball from deep and then chalked up 21 phases in the danger zone before Courtnall Skosan found a hole in the defence for what proved to be the winning score.
The Reds attack asked a few questions of the Lions defence late in the game, but the hosts held firm to seal a fortunate win.
Lions – 27
Tries: Tyrone Green (2), Marnus Schoeman, Courtnall Skosan
Conversion: Elton Jantjies (2)
Reds – 20
Try: Jock Campbell, Tate McDermott
Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (2)
Penalties: Hegarty (2)
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Duncan Matthews, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (c), 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Ruan Vermaak, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Shaun Reynolds
Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (c), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Sean Farrell, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Hunter Paisami
Lions v Reds
@ Emirates Airlines Park
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Griffon Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)