The Lions closed out their inaugural season in the United Rugby Championship (URC) with a 21-11 win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade in Newport on Saturday afternoon.
It was a poor game overall, played between two sides in the bottom half of the table, but the Lions were the stronger side over the 80 minutes and it showed in a comfortable win in the end.
Here are four talking points from the match.
Error strewn match
It was an error strewn match as both teams struggled to hold onto the ball in good conditions, which led to a very stop-start encounter. Both side’s managed to get into good positions in each other’s territory, only for an errant pass or a knock on to end a promising attack. A few strange reffing decisions also played a part in the stop-start nature of the match, with the Lions desperately unlucky not to score the opening try of the match after a bad call at a ruck.
The Lions scrum was in superb form all night. It gave the visitors a strong attacking platform and constantly putting the hosts on the back foot throughout, however the Lions did not get the reward for their dominance from the ref. It was a powerful scrum in the first half that saw the Lions get over the tryline for the first time as the attacked off the back with an inside ball putting wing Edwill van der Merwe away under the sticks.
Both the Lions and Dragons were guilty of butchering big chances during the match. In the first half an intercept from Stean Pienaar looked for all money to be a try, only for the right wing to not back himself and be reeled in. A counter attack from fullback Quan Horn also looked odds on to end in a try only for an errant pass to stop that. In the second half the Dragons then had their own intercept, with inside centre Josh Lewis getting to the tryline, only to dive short and loose the ball as he went over the whitewash.
Fast second half start
It was a fast start to the second half that ended up deciding the match in the Lions favour. Having gone into the break trailing 11-7, the Lions came flying out the blocks and almost scored straight from the kick-off only to lose the ball. However they then came straight back scored through lock Ruan Venter and prop Ruan Dreyer to put them ahead 21-11 after 52 minutes, with them defending that lead over the rest of the game to seal the win.
Dragons: Try – Rio Dyer; Penalties – Will Reed (2)
Lions: Tries – Edwill van der Merwe, Ruan Venter, Ruan Dreyer; Conversions – Jordan Hendrikse (3)