Lions clip Ospreys' wings
Captain Burger Odendaal plays leading role in setting up third straight win
The Lions surged to their third straight United Rugby Championship (URC) win at Ellis Park when they downed the Ospreys 45-15 on Friday.
The Lions, who led 14-3 at the break, took full control in the second quarter prompting the Ospreys to go into damage limitation mode.
Captain Burger Odendaal proved instrumental in much of the Lions' attacking endeavour and played a strong hand in three of their first four tries. He was incisive and looked a step ahead of everyone else. He deservedly bagged the man of the match award.
It was scrappy at the start though. Both teams wasted early opportunities before the Lions, who to be fair looked more dangerous, found a way through.
Handling errors blighted the Lions' early effort. Forward passes and knock-ons broke their rhythm as they at times displayed indecent haste trying to kick the door down.
However, once they registered points more confidence permeated their game and they were able to make more inroads. Their first try was an example of a team playing with swagger.
Scrumhalf Morne van den Berg broke blindside, before Odendaal tiptoed this way, and that way before passing back to Van den Berg who offloaded to right-wing Rabz Maxwane.
He ran in unchallenged and not long after the Lions profited from a turnover with Odendaal again finding space.
Despite losing Carlu Sadie in the build-up due to back spasms, increasingly the Lions' forwards flexed their muscle. They secured front foot ball and from it they were able to run into space and even their forwards got in on the act. No 8 Emmanuel Tshituka and flanker brother Vincent found ways of tormenting the Ospreys defence.
Pulling the right strings
Behind the pack Van den Berg adroitly pulled the strings allowing the backline to prosper.
The Ospreys, perhaps feeling the effects of the thin air, played with limited endeavour. Mind you, that appeared to be their default inside the first 10 minutes.
The win will increase the belief in the Lions team and will set them up for the closing stages of the league programme in the URC.
Lions (45) — Tries: Morne van den Berg (2), Rabz Maxwane, Francke Horn, Manuel Rass, Edwill van der Merwe, Andre Warner. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (5).
Ospreys (15) — Tries: Rhys Webb, Michael Collins. Conversion: Josh Thomas. Penalty: Thomas.
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