The Reds scored a converted try in the dying seconds of their Super 14 match against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday to snatch a lucky 24-all draw. The result meant that no South African side could win a match in this weekend’s round of matches.
The visitors came back from an 11-point deficit to take two points from the match, scoring three tries to the Lions’ two.
Great pressure in the last 10 minutes by the Reds saw them clinch a draw after they had been slightly the worse off against a Lions side that again left tries behind in the first half and deserved more than a 3-0 lead.
To add to the Lions’ woes, they let past a try through a lack of concentration or communication just when it seemed that they had the match tied up.
The first half produced exciting, open rugby by both sides — but the score line of 3-0 to the Lions showed the inability of both sides to finish as much as it did good defence.
Scrappy it wasn’t, but at that stage the match lacked real structure. Added to that there was the old Lions malaise of not finishing off their chances, and at least two tries went begging.
However, the Lions back line looked threatening throughout, and there can be little doubt that the greater willingness of man-of-the-match Jaco van Schalkwyk to run the ball at flyhalf has brought pace and flair to the back line.
Poor Lions defence seven minutes after the break saw Reds wing Peter Hynes break and score after a run of 70m, putting the Reds 10-6 in the lead. A penalty by Vermaak closed the gap as the Lions had the better of the third quarter.
The real reward, however, came when Van Schalkwyk broke the line to send Joe van Niekerk on a 40m run to put the home side back in the lead at 16-10. Five minutes later it was the turn of Sevens Springbok Rayno Benjamin, who got a good ball and scored after a nice little dummy.
With the Lions 11 points ahead, this one looked in the bag — but then the home side, as they did after every Reds score, slipped in concentration and Rodney Blake rounded off a Reds move that started just outside their 22. Suddenly it was 21-17 to the Lions and anyone’s game.
It brought a sour note to the match when Reds fullback Chris Latham, under the crossbar, employed some gamesmanship and showed the referee that a 45m Van Schalkwyk drop was short. However, the television match official had no hesitation in deciding it was good when replays showed it had crossed the bar by a good metre.
It was Latham that scored the last Reds try after a straightening run following continued Reds pressure for a somewhat lucky draw for the visitors. — Sapa