Golden Lions clinch last-gasp win
Jason Humphries
March 07, 2014

The Golden Lions needed a last-gasp penalty to edge out the Leopards XV 18-16 (halftime 3-13) in their Vodacom Cup North Section match at Profert Olen Park in Potchefstroom on Friday.

The defending champions trailed for the entire match until replacement scrumhalf Guy Cronje stepped up to slot a 78th minute penalty to secure the narrowest of victories as Leopards XV Gerhard Nortier missed a 30-metre penalty attempt to win the match in the final minute.

The Leopards had much the better of the first quarter and they took a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes thanks to a penalty from Nortier and a massive 55-metre penalty kick from fullback SW Oosthuizen.

The game was played on a very wet outfield after heavy rain in the week before the match which no doubt contributed to the stop-start nature of the contest, but the Leopards were looking the more adventurous of the two teams and they grabbed a fine try in the 19th minute through right wing Rowayne Beukman.

Oosthuizen slipped in to the backline before barging his way past one opponent before off-loading to Beukman who showed a superb turn of pace to outstrip the defence as he streaked over from 35 metres out as the hosts eased to a 13-0 lead.

The Lions had their opportunities to score in the first half but they were let down by handling errors at crucial times while flyhalf Willie du Plessis missed two early penalty attempts.

However, with the halftime hooter having already sounded Du Plessis made amends for his earlier misses with a penalty as the hosts went to the break leading 13-3 despite the Lions having over 60 per cent of possession in the first half.

The Lions dominated possession and territory at the start of the second half but they turned down a kickable penalty in order to kick for the corner.

However, their inability to finish cost them once again when the Leopards stretched their lead with a 53rd minute penalty from the left-boot of Nortier.

The Lions’ forwards were dominant and their rolling mauls were causing the Leopards all sorts of problems and the visitors finally managed to breach the hosts' valiant defence when flank Thabo Mabuza was mauled over for an unconverted try in the 59th minute.

The Leopards were reduced to 14 men three minutes later when lock Brendon Snyman was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul and the Lions took almost immediate advantage when Mabuza muscled his way over from close range for his second try of the match.

The stage was thus set for Cronje to emerge as the hero with his late penalty.

Leopards XV – Try: Rowayne Beukman; Conversion: Gerhard Nortier; Penalties: Nortier (2), SW Oosthuizen.

Golden Lions– Tries: Thabo Mabuza (2); Conversion: Guy Cronje; Penalties: Willie du Plessis, Cronje.

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