Flyhalf Elton Jantjies was the Lions’ big hero when he scored a crucial third try at the death to seal a hard-fought 24-15 Super Rugby win over a fired-up Force in Perth on Saturday afternoon.
That score granted them a vital bonus point.
Holding a narrow 17-15 advantage, the Lions used the scrum as their big weapon as they won a penalty after the hooter went to set Jantjies up as late as the 84th minute.
It was, however, an arm wrestle, with the Force producing a massive defensive display that denied the Lions from playing their normal quick, high-tempo game.
Who was the star in this match?
Lions hooker Malcolm Marx was a huge presence, whether it be his powerful scrumming, being a constant physical threat with his great upper body strength at the breakdowns or his ball-carrying skills. He showcased his skill with his backhanded pass to Jantjies, which ultimately led to the Lions’ second try, scored by wing Courtnall Skosan late in the first half.
Key themes and events
- With the Lions maul mostly neutralised, it was the Lions scrum who got them out of several nervous situations and handed them their bonus point try. It also provided a stable platform for the impressive Jantjies, who found huge distance with his relieving touchline kicks.
- Centre Lionel Mapoe scored the Lions first try after seven minutes when he powered his way over after numerous phases. He received a short pass from Jantjies to force his way over. After that, Mapoe was well watched by the Force defence.
- There was a fierce contest in the scrums but the Lions held the edge having received two penalties and a free kick from the first three scrums. It proved a psychological advantage.
- The Force’s strong defence kept the Lions at bay and often frustrated with local scrumhalf Ian Prior keeping the home side in contention with five penalties. The Lions struggled to get out of their half and their hands on the ball. They’ll need to find better exit strategies.
Force – Penalties: Prior (5).
Lions – Tries: Lionel Mapoe, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies. Conversions: Jantjies (3). Penalty: Jantjies.