The Xerox Golden Lions continued their winning ways on Saturday as they overcame the SWD Eagles 35-29 in their Currie Cup qualifier match at the Emirates Airline Park.
The Lions’ victory, their fourth on the trot, provisionally moves the Johannesburg-based side up to 4th on the log but all but confines the Eagles to the second division when the Currie Cup kicks off after Super Rugby.
The away team knew that nothing short of a victory would suffice and got off to a great start, opening up an early 8 point lead courtesy of a Johannes Graaf penalty and a Kurt Haput try after 12 minutes. They failed to build on this initial momentum and struggled to contain their hosts.
The Lions were without several of their key players, including their talismanic captain Ruaan Lerm, as Johan Ackermann is resting many of his Super Rugby regulars for this weekend’s trip to Argentina. As a result, some new faces were eager to impress.
On a cloudless and cool afternoon on the West Rand, the Lions began to flex their muscles and responded soon after with a try of their own when Jo-Hanco de Villiers crossed the line. Something must be in the water in Johannesburg that keeps churning out quality number 8s.
Siya Masuku was in in fine form from the tee, contributing 15 points from the boot, only missing one kick throughout the match. That lone blight occurred soon after the restart when the sniping scrumhalf, Marco Janse van Vuuren scored a try.
Another soon followed from JW Bell to extend the scores to 22-8. The Eagles did muster resistance and equalled their more illustrious opponents on the try tally, but Masuku constantly kept them at arm’s length throughout the encounter.
The Eagles can be proud of their performance but that will offer scant solace to the fact that they will be playing in the second division.
As for the Lions, they once again proved they have quality in depth and have all the ingredients for a dynasty in the making.
Lions: Tries: Jo-Hanco de Villiers; Marco Janse van Vuuren; JW Bell; Godfrey Ramaboea Conversions: Siya Masuku (3) Penalties: Siya Masuku (3)
Eagles: Tries: Kurt Haupt; Lenesteyo Nomdo; Buran Parks; Marco Kruger Conversions: Johannes Graaf (3) Penalties: Johannes Graaf