The Lions have a good idea after their opening match of the United Rugby Championship (URC) against Italian-side Zebre in Palma how visiting teams must feel during the second half at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The Lions managed to hold on to secure a 38-26 victory over Zebre in the Lanfranchi Stadium after leading handsomely by 35-0 at the break.
It was truly a game of two halves with the Lions getting out of the blocks first scoring five unanswered converted tries in the first half. The speedy wing Rabz Maxwane completed a brace of tries. Maxwane is not an unknown force to the teams of the Northern Hemisphere as he troubled many defences when he represented the Cheetahs in the preceding Pro14 competition.
The first-ever try of the URC belonged to the Lions’ other wing Jamba Ulengo. The former Springbok opened the scoring in the 10th minute. The other two tries came through captain Burger Odendaal and hooker, Jaco Visagie.
Hendrikse scored the Lions’ only points of the second half in the 42nd minute via a penalty. His direct opponent, Carlo Canna, opened the home side’s scoring in the 51st minute when he crossed the line.
The Italians had the Lions in trouble with their mauls from the line-outs scoring twice from this platform. One try came via a penalty try while the other came through replacement-hooker, Oliviero Fabiani.
The Lions finished in the eighth position (last) in the Currie Cup competition with even Griqualand West, the Pumas, and the Cheetahs who didn’t manage to get included in the new competition proving to be better teams during the season.
Lions 38 (35) – Tries: Rabz Maxwane (2), Jamba Ulengo, Jaco Visagie, Burger Odendaal. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (5). Penalty: Hendrikse. Zebre 26 (0) – Try: Carlo Canna, Tommaso Boni, Oliviero Fabiani, Penalty Try. Conversions: Canna (2).