Springbok wing Courtnall Skosan showed that he still has enormous hunger and explosiveness as he scored a tremendous hat-trick of tries to lead the Golden Lions to a resounding 62-41 win over Griquas in the Johannesburg side’s Currie Cup opener at Ellis Park on Friday night.
It’s been a hugely frustrating year for the 27-year-old, who missed the first six months after injuring his knee in a non-contact training session and lost his Springbok place.
But Skosan looked revitalised and was clearly enjoying doing what he does best – scoring tries.
His first try came on the half-hour as the Lions stretched their lead to 19-10, centre Jan-Louis la Grange putting through a clever kick for the wing, who showed good skill to himself kick it back infield and then produced blistering pace to win the race for the dot-down.
He scored again on the hour mark as the ball came to him out wide with two defenders in front of him, but Skosan simply had too much pace and explosiveness and easily scored.
The man from Brackenfell completed his hat-trick with the final try, a minute from time, regathering his own chip to score.
Who was the star in this match?
Eighthman Hacjivah Dayimani added two tries and was the official man of the match, but a new player who really stood out was 22-year-old lock Rhyno Herbst. He did his bit in the set-pieces as the Lions dominated the scrums and lineouts, but he also showed terrific grunt carrying the ball and the ability to vary his play. Herbst will add substantially to the Lions’ lock stocks for Super Rugby; in the absence of Franco Mostert, he could play an important back-up role to Marvin Orie and Lourens Erasmus.
Key moments and themes
- The Lions battled to pull clear of Griquas in the first half, thanks largely to their own deuced lapses in concentration. The Lions scored the first try after six minutes, through Dayimani, but poor handling then saw them concede one to Griquas. After opening up a 19-10 lead with further tries by scrumhalf Ross Cronje and Skosan, the Lions made a poor exit to concede a try and then a scrum penalty to give Griquas a 20-19 lead at halftime.
- That was the last time Griquas scored, however, until the 64th minute when replacement hooker Wilmar Arnoldi forced his way over from close range. The visitors ended the first half with some rousing defence to keep the Lions from crossing their line, but they did concede a yellow card, to openside flank Wendal Wehr, that would ultimately prove crucial. Although the Lions weren’t able to score before the break, they made sure that Griquas paid heavily for having 14 men on the field as they ran amok with 17 points in the opening nine minutes of the second half.
- The try of the game came in the 68th minute when Wandisile Simelane, the SA U20 centre, came off the bench and showed what all the fuss is about. The former Jeppe boy received the ball from a scrum and, bursting through the line from halfway, showed tremendous pace to score a great try.
- To Griquas’ credit, every time it looked as if they would be plunging to an ignominious, splattering defeat on the pavement below, they pulled themselves back up with one hand on the railing, and late tries by captain Kyle Steyn and wing AJ Coertzen meant they emerged with credit from the entertaining game.
Golden Lions: Tries: Hacjivah Dayimani (2), Ross Cronje, Courtnall Skosan (3), Sylvian Mahuza, Len Massyn, Wandisile Simelane. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (7). Penalty: Reynolds.
Griquas: Tries: Andre Swarts, Kwezi Mkhafu, Wilmar Arnoldi, Kyle Steyn, AJ Coertzen. Conversions: George Whitehead (5). Penalties: Whitehead (2).