Highlanders barely hold on to deny charging Lions
May 10, 2014
The Highlanders' Aaron Smith was good at the base of the scrum
© Getty Images
The Highlanders held on to defeat the Lions in a dramatic match at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, winning by a single point only after Elton Jantjies' conversion to win from the left touchline, with the last kick of the game, had hit the far post.
The hosts looked good for a much larger victory when they claimed a 23-0 half-time lead with a brace of tries from Richard Buckman and another from substitute flanker Gareth Evans on the stroke of the interval, but, not for the first time this season, they let their opponents back into the contest.
The Highlanders tired through the second stanza as the Lions continued to dominate possession and territory to compound the physical effects of the hosts' journey home from South Africa. And the Lions were much effective, finally reaping rewards from their possession through tries from Francois de Klerk, Lionel Mapoe, Armand van der Merwe and Courtnall Skosan. The Lions could certainly feel a little aggrieved at the final whistle to have claimed only bonus points for scoring four tries and losing by fewer than seven points.
The visitors thought they had scored at the foot of the left upright with just two minutes to play, from a pick and drive, only for the television match official to say he could not be sure the ball had touched the padding. The Lions won the ensuing scrum easily and eventually Skosan crossed wide after several attempts trough the forwards to drive through closer to the posts for an easier conversion attempt.
Janties, on for Marnies Boshoff, stepped up for the chance to complete the remarkable comeback, and his kick looked good all the way, and, to some people, even after it had hit the post and bounced back, but the flags stayed down and the Highlanders claimed the win.
The Highlanders held on to defeat the Lions in dramatic fashion (video available only in Australia)
The Highlanders' boom centre Malakai Fekitoa fends a Lions opponent in the first half © Getty Images
Courtnall Skosan scores in the final minutes to give Elton Jantjies a kick to win the match © Getty Images
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