The Lions have swept into the semi finals in style with a six tries to three, 42-25 victory over the Crusaders at Ellis Park overnight and will now host the Highlanders in the semi finals next week.
Going into the match one wondered if the Lions would stick to their winning formula or revert to what we’re more used to seeing from South African sides. It took roughly 60 seconds for that question to be answered, wing Courtnall Skosan scoring from a break near the half way mark, outrunning Israel Dagg for the corner.
Crusaders lock Luke Romano was sin-binned for a maul infringement shortly afterwards, the Lions taking full advantage with centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg scoring from close range and flyhalf Elton Jantjies adding the extras. Jantjies then made it 15-0 inside 15 minutes from which point the result seemed inevitable.
The Crusaders dominated possession and territory for most of the second quarter, wing Johnny McNicholl making some telling runs. They finally got on the board with a Richie Mo’unga penalty and not long after centre Ryan Crotty raised hopes of a comeback with a try after 32 minutes for 10-15.
The Lions had the final say in the half, though, hooker Malcolm Marx driving over from a lineout just before the hooter sounded and Jantjies converting.
Half Time: Lions 22-10 Crusaders
Mo’unga closed the gap with a penalty early in the half but Jantjies restored the 12-point buffer with a neatly taken drop goal under penalty advantage after 53 minutes. He backed that up with a penalty in the 62nd for a commanding 28-13 lead.
The Crusaders struck back immediately with a try to replacement half back Mitchell Drummond from a Mo’unga bomb but even at 20-28 one had the feeling that the Crusaders were done for the night.
The Lions made a raft of changes at 67 minutes as they looked to close the game out. Immediate dividends were paid with wing Ruan Combrinck dotting down after a huge bust by centre Lionel Mapoe.
The final 10 minutes were a bit of a free-for-all with Lions replacement half back Ross Cronje scoring from a Mapoe kick and replacement Crusaders back Ben Volavola scoring a late consolation try.
Final Score: Lions 42-25 Crusaders
At 10-15 the Crusaders were well in the game but Malcolm Marx’s 39th minute try gave the hosts a 12-point lead they were never going to surrender.
Man of the Match
Elton Jantjies showed why he should be the Springboks’ starting 10, barely putting a foot wrong and steering his team around the park in impressive fashion.
Score and Scorers
Tries: Courtnall Skosan(2′) Rohan Janse van Rensburg(7′) Malcolm Marx(40′) Ruan Combrinck(69′) Ross Cronje(75′)
Conversions: Elton Jantjies 4/5
Penalties: Elton Jantjies 2/3
Drop Goals: Elton Jantjies 1/1
Tries: Ryan Crotty(33′) Mitchell Drummond(63′) Ben Volavola(80′)
Conversions: Richie Mo’unga 2/3
Penalties: Richie Mo’unga 2/2
Cards & Citings
Yellow: Luke Romano (5’)