The Lions bounced back from a horrendous Super Rugby opener with a hard-fought 27-20 win over the Reds.
Fresh from their worst Super Rugby defeat to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, the Lions outscored the Reds four tries to two.
It was certainly not a clinical performance by the hosts, however, a welcome result by Lions’ coach Ivan van Rooyen.
Lions wing Tyrone Green was one of the standout performers, scoring a brace of tries in front of a nearly empty Ellis Park Stadium.
The other try-scorers were Courtnall Skosan and flank Marnus Schoeman. Elton Jantjies added two conversions and a penalty.
For the Reds, Jock Campbell and scrumhalf Tate McDermott got their names on the scoreboard. While, fullback Bryce Hegarty, who was in fine form tee added two conversions and two penalties to their tally.
A handy Hegarty penalty made sure the Reds were the first on the board.
Minutes later Lions hit back. A well-executed grubber by Jantjies landed kindly for Green, who went over for his first Super Rugby try. Jantjies missed the conversion.
The Lions’ narrow lead was shortlived, as Reds wing Campbell snapped up the loose ball up and to dot down under the posts for Australian side’s sole try of the first half. Fullback Hegarty added the easy extras for the 10-5 lead after 10 minutes.
With less than 20 minutes on the clock, Green had his double. Springbok pair Jantjies and Andries Coetzee combined well and laid a perfect platform for Green. Unfortunately for the Lions, Jantjies again missed the conversion and the score remained 10-all.
There was no shortage of physicality as Reds’ pack dominated proceedings. A huge scrummaging effort from the visitors made sure they were rewarded with a successful penalty by Hegarty.
Just before the break, Lions pilled on the pressure and Reds went down 14 men. Jaco Peyper handed a yellow card to prop Taniela Tupou and Lions took full advantage as Marnus Schoeman muscled over for the 17-13 lead at the break.
Discipline, again proved to be the Australian side’s Achilles heel, as they went down to 13-man, this time Josh Nasser was handed a yellow card for a dangerous tackle in the second half.
Despite the numeral advantage, Lions failed to extend the lead a try-saving tackle from Henry Speight denied Green the points and his hat-trick.
The scored stayed 17-13 for 20 minutes before Reds Tate McDermott’s sniping try under the post followed by Lions wing Cortnall Skosan’s runaway try made it 24-20 to the Lions.
Reds were desperate to score but a successful penalty by Jantjies concluded the scoring for the match in Johannesburg.
It was the second successive loss for the Reds, who fell narrowly to the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend.
Man of the match: For the Reds Bryce Hegarty was in fine form dictating the play from the back. Lions Marnus Schoeman also proved to be a handful at the breakdown, however for his impressive work rate and vision on attack on nod goes to Lions wing Tyrone Green.
Tries: Green 2, Schoeman, Skosan
Cons: Jantjies 2
Tries: Cambell, McDermott
Cons: Hegarty 2
Pens: Hegarty 2
Yellow cards: Taniela Tupou (Reds, 39 – Repeat infringements), Josh Nasser (Reds, 44 – Dangerous tackle)
Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Duncan Matthews, 12 Dan Kriel, 11
Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8
Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4
Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Ruan Vermaak, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Shaun Reynolds
Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock
Campbell, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10
James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright
(captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Izack Rodda, 3
Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Jean-Pierre Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sean Farrell, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Hunter Paisami.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Griffon Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)