By Lucky Maree
As the lowest ranked South African team on the United Rugby Championship table, the Lions, lying 11th, will be looking for a win against Benetton who are lying 10th.
There is a lot at stake. Both teams are still in a position to get into the top eight play-off position, but they need all the points they can squeeze out of every game.
It’s no secret that the Lions players are unhappy with their management and they have to find their motivation from the players themselves. In spite of this less than ideal situation, they have been able to produce two good wins, showing a defiant middle finger to their coach, Crash van Rooyen and the notoriously invisible Lions boss Rudolph Straeuli. It is not impossible that the Lions could make it three in a row today.
For the first 22 minutes the only action at the Stadio Comunale Di Monigo in Treviso comes from a penalty for the Lions until Joaquin Riera scores the softest of tries for Benetton. It could be a long afternoon for the Lions.
And so it is. Two minutes later wing Marcus Watson scores in the corner for Benetton. They lead by two converted tries to one penalty.
However, in the very next movement, powerful work by the Lions forwards opens the gate for Quan Horn to score.
Benetton respond a few minutes later. They score through Siua Maile and Benetton take an 11 point lead into halftime.
The Lions open the second half scoring with a penalty but for the next eight minutes they scramble to keep Benetton from scoring.
But then referee Frank Murphy reminds the world that he is the most important man on the field by pulling out his yellow card. Sanele Nohamba, the one player in the Lions team who can make a difference, will be out of the game for the next ten minutes.
The Lions have somehow managed to contain Benetton until Nohamba comes back, but in the very next movement, Henry Stowers – with some serious help from the Lions defence – scores Benetton’s bonus point try.
Then comes a spectacular ten minutes from the Lions.
Emmanuel Tshituka scores a brilliant try, dragging three Benetton over the line with him. And one minute later the Lions do it again. Rabz Maxwane scores a long range try and suddenly the Lions are within three points of a famous victory. Two movements later Tshituka scores again. The Lions have the bonus point try and a four point lead.
As the fulltime hooter sounds, the Lions defence, that has been less than solid, is tested one more time – but the defence holds.
The Lions have snatched a very important victory.
Benetton (4 tries) 28-32 (4 tries) Lions.
Pictured above: Lions scoring a try against Benetton
Image source: Lions Rugby