Lions crush Griquas to reach Currie Cup final for the first time since 2015
The Golden Lions reached the Currie Cup final but their performance hardly carried the promise of gold against a pragmatic Griquas side at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Lions reached the final for the first time since 2015, when they won the tournament, but they made heavy weather of beating the Griquas.
Despite holding the whip hand the Lions only put the issue beyond doubt when flank Marnus Schoeman crashed over at the back of a marauding ruck.
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The Lions often played themselves into positions of promise but they fluffed their lines when the visitors looked prone to the knock-out blow.
Griquas, it has to be said, is a well organised side and they will miss departing coach Brent Janse van Rensburg next season.
They were outplayed here but it wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard until the closing minutes.
The visitors were heavily reliant on the trusty boot of flyhalf George Whitehead who contributed 14 of his team’s points.
For all their surfeit possession and territory the Lions struggled to make much headway in the first half.
They also had a scrum that was in the ascendancy but rarely were they able to profit commensurate with their monopoly of the ball.
It was a first half blighted by errors.
The Lions struggled to build continuity, often as a result of their failure to secure clean ball from the ruck. Their ball protection was at times quite shoddy.
Moreover, they conceded silly penalties that served to relieve pressure on the visitors but it also presented the deadly accurate Whitehead the opportunity to keep his team in touch.
He did just that and his team was within a point of the hosts until the last play of the first half.
By contrast the Lions, in the first half, eschewed opportunities to direct their kickable penalties towards goal and when Griquas’ maul defence didn’t frustrate them, they found ways of not grounding the ball as was the case when Stean Pienaar lost the ball forward in the 35th minute.
The Lions finally had something to show for their dominance in the last 12 minutes or so of the first half when No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani touched down after the siren to the palpable relief of almost all in attendance.
Much earlier in the half the Lions got on the board in encouraging fashion.
Madosh Tambwe’s try in the eighth minute was one which required a fair amount of pluck and bloody mindedness from the strapping wing.
Although Shaun Reynolds delivered a deft pass to the wing tucked up next to the right hand touchline, Tambwe stepped and skipped his way out of a few tackles before reaching for the tryline.
Although Griquas drew level with a try from Chris Smit, the Lions hit the lead with a splendidly orchestrated try from Pienaar.
It all seemed so easy then.