The Lions secured an important 52-24 bonus-point victory against a motivated Jaguares side in Johannesburg.
A brace of tries apiece from Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan helped the Lions outscore their opponents eight tries to two with Nicolás Sánchez and Gonzalo Bertranou crossing the whitewash for the Jaguares. Lionel Mapoe, Lourens Erasmus, Cyle Brink and Jaco Kriel also dotted down for the men from Johannesburg.The home side made nine more clean breaks than the visitors, and beat 28 defenders, and the bonus-point win also consolidated their position at the summit of the Africa Two Conference table.
Four first-half tries set up the home side’s triumph as they made the Jaguares pay for missing tackles and allowing them to cross the advantage line too easily. Skosan got his first try as early as the second minute after a clever offload from Cyle Brink. Mnisi, Mapoe and Erasmus got over for the Lions’ other three tries during the opening period although Elton Jantjies was successful with just two of his four attempts at goal. Three penalties from Nicolás Sánchez meant the Lions held a comfortable 19-9 half-time lead.
Despite enjoying less than 50 percent of the ball for most of the first 40, the home side made good use of their possession and after a brilliant display of ball handling skill, full-back Jaco van der Walt offloaded to Mapoe at pace and the Springbok centre made no mistake despite still having two defenders to beat. Jantjies’ conversion handed the Lions a six-point lead with the score on 12-6. Sánchez added another penalty as the final ten minutes of the first-half approached, the Currie Cup champions would have had an even bigger lead had Jantjies not missed an earlier penalty and a failed drop goal attempt.
The home side weren’t done just yet as Erasmus got over for his try, well after the half-time hooter had already sounded. The Jaguares were punished after they failed to clear their line and gifted the ball to their hosts and after a few threatening phases Erasmus ran in his score, Jantjies booted the score to 19-9 as the players headed into the changing rooms. Brink was rewarded for his brilliant efforts at the breakdown, when he went over for a try of his own after Jantjies side-stepped a rushing Jaguares defensive line and his offload sent the back-rower over for his first Super Rugby try.
The last quarter belonged to the two Lions speedsters, Combrinck, after being fairly quiet most of the match, not only raced his way in for two tries but also succeeded with a conversion and a penalty taking his personal tally in the match to fifteen. Skosan rounded off his brace with the final ten minutes of the match approaching. Sánchez and Bertranou added their tries, albeit a little too late, in the 65th and 76th minute respectively with replacement playmaker Santiago González Iglesias converting the Bertranou score.
Despite a spirited and valiant fightback from the visitors, late in the second half, it was never enough to match the speed and brilliant handling skills of the Lions.
Tries: Skosan 2, Combrinck 2, Mapoe, Erasmus, Brink, Kriel
Cons: Jantjies 2, Combrinck
Pens: Combrinck 2
Tries: Sánchez, Bertranou
Con: González Iglesias
Pens: Sánchez 4
Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Corne Fourie
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Santiago García Botta.
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Lourens van der Merwe
TMO: Willie Vos