Lions squeeze past Jaguares to secure 24-21 Super Rugby victory
Last Updated: 21/04/17 9:21pm
Fly-half Elton Jantjies kicked the only penalty of the game to help the Lions escape with a 24-21 home win over the Jaguares in a tight Super Rugby match at Ellis Park on Friday.
It was the seventh win in eight games for last years runners-up but they were fortunate against feisty opponents as they stayed top of their conference standings.
Momentum ebbed and flowed throughout the tightly-contested affair with the Jaguares dominated for large periods of the match, but in the end the experience of the Lions, and the boot of their fly-half, saw them through.
The teams traded converted tries to be level with 10 minutes to go but the Lions won a penalty two minutes from time which Jantjies slotted over to seal victory.
The result consolidates the Lions' position at the summit of the 'Africa 2' table, the Jaguares finding themselves 12 points behind in third.
It was the visitors who got off to the best start and they struck inside the opening five minutes to serve notice of their determination to halt a run of two successive losses as Matias Orlando burst over to score after a break by influential flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez.
The strength of the Lions enabled a quick recovery, however, and Harold Vorster ran a superb angle to take hold of a Ross Cronje pass to cross the whitewash for the first of their two opening half tries.
The Lions then set up a chance for centre Lionel Mapoe, who danced through the Argentine defence to score after a clever show-and-go.
It meant a seven-point lead at the break but the hosts were quickly 21-14 down as the Jaguares once again started the brighter of the two teams and dominated the first 20 minutes after the break.
Loose forward Rodrigo Baez stretched over in the 48th minute, Sanchez adding the extras to level the scores and three minutes later it was lock Guido Petti out wide on the wing who crashed over after the South Americans went the length of the field.
Things went from bad to worse for the Lions three minutes later when Vorster was shown yellow for cynically slowing the ball down just outside his own 22.
The error-prone Lions missed several chances to pull level but with 10 minutes left Ruan Ackermann finished off an attacking move that started deep in the hosts own half before Jantjies' punished his opponent's indiscipline at the scrum, kicking his side to victory in the process.