It was only after wing Stean Pienaar heard the shouting of encouragement from his Lions team-mates that the adrenaline really started pumping for the try-scoring hero at Ellis Park last weekend.
Pienaar’s try, with eight minutes left after a quick tap, ensured the Lions drew level with Western Province at 19-19 in their Currie Cup thriller, before a late penalty from star fullback Tiaan Swanepoel ensured a come-from-behind 22-19 win.
“I think I caught them napping a bit and it definitely wasn’t pre-planned, more instinctive. I’ll have to lie if I say it was a set move,” the 23-year-old Pienaar said on Tuesday.
“As I had the ball in my hands I had conflicting thoughts on whether I wanted to do it or not, and then I heard somebody shout in the background ‘Go Stean, Go Stean’.”
It turned out to be the only try the Lions scored, with Province probably expecting the hosts to have gone for another shot at goal.
“At the time I didn’t know yet whether I should aim to take the run, but when I tapped the ball and I looked up I saw there was an opening almost underneath their posts,” said Pienaar.
“Then I just had to back myself, which I did, and fortunately it came off, so I was extremely thrilled and I was just happy I could give that contribution to the side.”
Pienaar, with his stocky 1.79m/97kg frame, makes it extremely tough for defenders, but he had to bide his time this season after receiving stern competition for a place in the squad from the likes of Jamba Ulengo, Rabz Maxwane, Divan Rossouw and EW Viljoen.
“I wasn’t injured or in rehabilitation and neither did I have Covid. There’s just really stiff competition for places,” he said.
Pienaar said the rest of the Lions team had prepared well during the week and they knew precisely what they wanted to do against Province, though he admitted they needed a few things to go their way at the death.
Bagging their first victory of the year over one of the other Super Rugby franchises, Pienaar also believed it would help with their preparation for this week’s away game against the Cheetahs.
“I think the ball bounced in our direction last weekend and we are grateful about that,” he said.
“A win is always a great confidence booster and we can take a lot of heart out of it.”