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Thread: Lions make history in thriller

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    Lions make history in thriller

    I feel quite a fair and accurate report from the SA Official website:

    Lions make history in thriller

    24 February 2007 (Posted: 11:28)

    By Gavin Rich -- SuperSport Zone


    They will be lighting braai fires all over Johannesburg on Saturday night to celebrate a famous 25-24 victory for the Lions over the Western Force in Perth.

    It was heart-stopping stuff, with André Pretorius stepping up to the plate in the final minute to nail the penalty that regained his team a lead that they had relinquished to a 49-metre Cameron Shepherd penalty just two minutes earlier.

    From the restart, the Western Force took possession and played the Lions back into their own half, but as they had been for much of the 80 minutes, the young Lions players were brilliant on defence, and it was Force flyhalf Matt Giteau who eventually lost patience by attempting a drop-goal that skewed off his boot.

    The victory made history for the Lions in that it was their first win in Australia in Super rugby. It should be enough to give them heart for what lies ahead of them on their tour. It was an important result as the Lions are a young team, but they continue to disprove the pre-tournament predictions that they would be the whipping boys of the South African teams.

    For the Western Force the result was met with abject disappointment, as they remain without a victory on their home ground at Subiaco Oval. Last year’s draw with the Crusaders remains their most positive result, but they would have been expecting so much more after victories over the Stormers and the Bulls in South Africa in the past two weeks.

    Most of the last ten Force defeats have been desperately close-run things, and it was that way again. They went into the last ten minutes of the game behind, they had one penalty attempt miss. However, they would have thought they had finally broken the hoodoo when Shepherd was successful with perhaps his most difficult attempt from far out.

    It was a match though where both teams missed kicks at goal, and for Springbok flyhalf Pretorius, there would have been a lot of nerves when he lined up the decider. It was in front of the poles, but the wind made it difficult. Although he had slotted a great drop-goal to put his team into the lead not long after he had come onto the field as a replacement, he also missed a kick and had another bounce off the upright.

    Pretorius did make a difference in general play, and it was his little chip-and-gather that put the Force under pressure and forced Matt Henjak to go off his feet and concede the penalty in a kickable position. However, Louis Strydom had been pinpoint with his goalkicking, so a Pretorius failure with the last kick would doubtless have raised questions about the wisdom of the substitution.

    TENTATIVE IN THE SECOND HALF

    The Force did contribute to their own demise as they had more than enough ball to win it, but appeared to be tentative in the second half, when they should have been taking control of the game after going into the break in the ascendancy.

    That is not to detract from the Lions’ effort, however, and they deserve full marks for the character and discipline they showed, as well as for the way they sorted out their defensive problems after half time, when they played into a strong wind.

    After making a good start, the Lions appeared to fade quite badly in the first half and, at one stage, the Force were making line-breaks with seeming impunity. Although they only scored two tries, they did have two disallowed for forward passes.

    The Force scrummed a lot better than anticipated, and they had the Lions under pressure in this phase in the first half, but this was also an area that the Lions managed to sort out later.

    The Lions started confidently and Cobus Grobelaar was held up on the line in the opening minutes. Strydom though was on target almost immediately with a penalty, he added another one before the ten-minutes mark, and although Shepherd drew one back for the Force, Jaques Fourie scored a great try.

    It started with an excellent turn-over on a night when the outstanding Lions back row, superbly led by skipper Ernst Joubert, were all over their opponents. The ball was spun to the left, it was then chipped ahead, and Force fullback Drew Mitchell, in attempting to scramble, succeeded only in helping to pop the ball into Fourie’s hands.

    Then came the Force’s period of dominance, with Shepherd rounding off a movement where the Lions simply ran out of defenders, and maybe Wylie Human chose the wrong line, and then prop Gareth Hardy dived over under the posts after a great, sustained movement from the hosts to put them 15-13 ahead.

    Strydom was then on target with two penalties after half time to cancel out one from Shepherd to regain a one-point lead, and the lead was to swop hands twice more before the final whistle blew to bring down the curtain on a performance which was encouraging for the whole of South Africa, not just for supporters of the Lions.

    Scores:

    Lions – Try: Jaques Fourie; Conversion: Louis Strydom; Penalties: Louis Strydom 4 and Andre Pretorius; Drop-goal: Andre Pretorius.

    Western Force – Tries: Cameron Shepherd and Gareth Hardy; Conversion: Cameron Shepherd; Penalties: Cameron Shepherd 4.

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    Champion Contributor jazza93's Avatar
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    nice report.

    they played well and were dominating but when andre pretorius came on things changed and they were in control. it was a good game hope we can win next week. ryan cross played really well and he is on fire at the moment. i think they should have gone for the try at the end but it was getting to risky and they had to have a go soon. hope they can stay top half of the ladder.

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