Lions battle to draw with Dragons

A monster 60m penalty attempt from Lions replacement flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse just drifted wide on the fulltime hooter leaving the home side with a disappointing 31-all draw against the Dragons in their opening Challenge Cup clash at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

In a game that the Lions were expected to win with a full house of points, it ended up coming down to the late penalty that Hendrikse lined up from his own 10m, but watched as it agonisingly went wide, allowing the Dragons to kick out to end the match.

ALSO READ: Lions looking to shake things up against Dragons in Challenge Cup

With just four pool stage matches in the Challenge Cup the result is already a big blow to their hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase, and they will need to be much improved when they face Stade Francais next Friday night.

The match got under way with both teams flyhalves on target as first Gianni Lombard converted a penalty, followed by Sam Davies with the score 3-all after 10 minutes.

Three minutes later the Dragons were in for the games first try, with them on attack in the Lions half, flank Matthew Screech broke through some poor Lions defence and offloaded to fullback Jordan Williams, who also brushed off some weak tackle attempts to go over.

Davies was on target with the conversion for a 10-3 lead, but the teams were soon back on level terms as the Lions struck back in the 16th minute.

Having taken play deep into the visitors 22m, a quick ball from a ruck gave Lombard enough space to go over, with him then converting his own try.

In the 23rd minute the Dragons were then back ahead after some good sustained pressure in the home sides 22m ended with scrumhalf Rhodri Williams picking up and sniping over to score, with Davies extras putting them 17-10 up.

The Lions levelled the scores in the 31st minute as a big maul from a 5m lineout powered over, with replacement prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye dotting down, and Lombard converting.

The Dragons however had the final say of the half as they attacked from a lineout in the Lions 22m, with Williams breaking to the line and then offloading to Davies to crash over for a converted score and 24-17 lead at the break.

Edwill van der Merwe

The second half then saw the home team get off to a flyer as wing Edwill van der Merwe ran in two quick tries to put the Lions up 31-24 after 48 minutes.

He first chased a grubber from replacement flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse, kicked it ahead and dotted down, followed by showing superb support after a break from flank Jaco Kriel to receive an offload on the tryline, with Hendrikse converting both.

In the 59th minute the Dragons then drew the scores level once again, as they attacked through another big hole in the Lions defence, with Williams then breaking to the line and offloading to inside centre Jack Dixon to crash over for the converted score.

A frantic final 20 minutes then followed, with the Lions having to negotiate a 10 minute period with 14-men after replacement prop JP Smith was yellow carded for an infringement at a ruck in the Lions 22m.

Both sides then had a final chance to win the game as Davies missed a drop goal with just over a minute left, and Hendrikse missed the penalty on the fulltime hooter.


Lions: Tries – Gianni Lombard, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Edwill van der Merwe (2); Conversions – Lombard (2), Jordan Hendrikse (2); Penalty – Lombard

Dragons: Tries – Jordan Williams, Rhodri Williams, Sam Davies, Jack Dixon; Conversions – Davies (4); Penalty – Davies

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