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01 Mar 2008 11:26
A glaring error by referee Kelvin Deaker cost the Lions seven points in the Super 14 match which they eventually lost 18-16 to the Western Force at Ellis Park on Friday night.
Following a ball lost by the Force, which Lions scrumhalf Jano Vermaak had kicked into a Force player before taking the rebound and setting off on his run, Deaker in the 49th minute adjudged Vermaak’s kick to have been into one of his teammates and made an accidental off-side call.
The call forced the Lions to play catch-up after a Cameron Shepherd penalty had put the visitors ahead with a long-range penalty.
Although the Force were the better side in the second half, the try by Vermaak would have made it 23-15.
In a match in which big Joe van Niekerk signalled his return to form and Matt Giteau emphasised his class, the Lions gave as good as they got.
Lions coach Eugene Eloff predictably told his side to keep the Force from running it wide, and it was also noticeable that the Lions, from the rucks opted to play it close.
Van Niekerk handled and drove with enthusiasm and flair and the hard work of Cobus Grobbelaar was something to savour.
He won ball on the ground, and tackled his heart out in a display of pure guts.
In the first half, Doppies le Grange charged down a kick, made a brilliant pick-up and Van Schalkwyk finished well.
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