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Lions edge out Sunwolves

The Lions drew first blood when Springbok hooker Malcom Marx went through a gaping hole in midfield before giving a long pass out to fellow Springbok Andries Coetzee.

The Emirates Lions beat the Sunwolves 40-38 at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Twitter/@LionsRugbyCo

JOHANNESBURG - The Emirates Lions scraped past the spirited Sunwolves 40-38 at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions have been rocked by several injuries, including that of Captain Warren Whiteley who has been ruled out for up to a month with a knee injury.

Swys de Bruyn also opted to rest a few key players for the clash against the Japanese outfit, a move that almost went pear-shaped as the Sunwolves ran the two-time Super Rugby finalists close.

The Lions drew first blood when Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx went through a gaping hole in midfield before giving a long pass out to fellow Springbok Andries Coetzee who had some work to do to evade the efforts of the covering Sunwolves before dotting down in the right-hand corner.

De Bruyn’s men then stretched their lead when they scored through a powerful scrum from 5m out.

Japanese international Kotaro Matsushima then narrowed the gap to just four points when he crashed over from close range after some magnificent work by the forwards. Marx then added a try of his own, diving over bodies in the ruck.

The Sunwolves had the last laugh in the first half as Craig Millar scored and the Lions lead 19-17 at halftime.

The Lions had the perfect start to the half. On form winger, Aphiwe Dyantji charged down a relieving kick straight from the kick off and dotted down under the poles.

The Sunwolves weren’t lying down without a fight and kept pressuring the Lions into various mistakes.

Hosea Saumaki scored a brilliant solo try, skimming both Coetzee and Dyantji on his way to the line.

Kazuki Himeno then scored an intercept try to put the Sunwolves in the lead for the first time in the game taking a 31-26 lead. The Lions forwards were keeping them in the game and Marx went over for his double through a rolling maul and regained the lead.

Rohan Janse van Rensburg then came off the right wing to score and give the Lions a bit of breathing space but Sunwolves replacement hooker Atsushi Sakate scored under the poles making for a tense last two minutes for the Lions to hang on. Hang on they did and secured a narrow 40-38 victory.