The Lions continued their impressive Currie Cup for with a tough 34-20 victory over a defiant Pumas side in Nelspruit on Friday.
The Johannesburg side produced an excellent first half performance to lead 27-6 at the break, but were forced to hold off a rejuvenated Pumas side in the second half.
The Pumas came back out onto the park after the break with a change of strip (from pink to black) as has become their norm, and they looked a different side in the second half.
The Lions seemed to lose their patience after dominating the first 40 minutes, while the Pumas made a game of it and fought for every inch on the field and will rue a few costly errors early in the game.
The Pumas are still without a win in the competition, and came close recording yet another bonus point, but in the dying moments of the match the Lions scored their first points of the second half and the all important fourth try to extend their lead at the top of the log.
There was some uncompromising defensive work from both sides, who went hammer and tongs at each other from start to finish.
The Lions didn't come away from the match unscathed, as they lost centre Lionel Mapoe early on in the game with a dislocated shoulder.
The Lions opened the scoring with some silky skills from Jaco Taute, as the fullback chipped the ball over the defence and charged forward to collect the ball and put flying wing Michael Killian into space to score a classy try.
The two flyhalves Coenie van Wyk and Elton Jantjies traded penalties after both teams threw everything at each other in an energetic start to the match.
Strong Lions flank Michael Rhodes crashed his way through a few tackles to stroll over for the second try after some excellent phase play and a well timed pass by Jantjies.
Just before the half time break the Lions added a third try to their tally as the Pumas defended bravely on their tryline, but Taute carried the ball up strongly and was driven over the line for well deserved try.
The Pumas camped themselves on the Lions tryline for most of the first 20 minutes after the break and came desperately close to scoring a try, but sturdy Lions defence held them at bay and Jaco Bower knocked the ball on over the line.
Finally persistence and patience paid off and as the ball went out wide the Pumas captain Corne Steenkamp crashed over the line for an excellent try.
The Pumas kept themselves in the game and attacked vigorously with some good continuity, and the ball was spread wide to fullback MJ Mentz who used his sevens skills to dart past a defender and score.
With time running out the Lions launched a final attack in their quest for a bonus point, and after a great build up giant lock Johan Snyman crashed over from close range to make his impact of the bench felt.
Man of the Match: A few contenders as Pumas skipper Corne Steenkamp and lock Marius Coetzer with in great form, and lions prop Pat Cilliers had a big match. However, the star of the show was tough Lions fullback Jaco Taute, who was creative from deep with top class decision-making to always pick the best option.
For the Pumas:
Tries: Steenkamp, Mentz
Cons: Van Wyk 2
Pens: Van Wyk 2
For the Lions:
Tries: Killian, Rhodes, Taute, Snyman
Cons: Jantjies 4
Pens: Jantjies 2
Pumas: 15 MJ Mentz, 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Tian Meyer, 11 Wilhelm Looch, 10 Coenie van Wyk, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Rudi Matthee, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 Reginald Kember, 20 Martin Sithole, 21 Tiaan Marx, 22 Johan Jackson.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Joshua Strauss, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Doppies La Grange, 22 Burton Francis.
Referee: Jason Jaftha
Assistant referees: Rasta Rashivenga, Cobus Wessels
TMO: JC Fortuin
By Timmy Hancox
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