Lions down Chiefs in Hamilton epic

A gutsy defensive performance in the second half giving the Lions a hard fought and memorable win on the road.

The Lions's Elton Jantjies is tackled by his Chiefs opponents during their Super Rugby match on 19 April 2019. Picture: @LionsRugbyCo/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The Lions were hoping to put a terrible week behind them when they took on the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday morning.

The men from Johannesburg went into the clash without Courtnall Skosan and head coach Swys de Bruin, who both returned to South Africa for personal reasons.

The game started off with both sides feeling each other out before the Lions's scrum came to the fore and won the away side a penalty after 10 minutes.

The Chiefs’ scrum was put under pressure in the 26th minute with the Lions winning another penalty, which was converted by Elton Jantjies for a 6-0 lead after half an hour of play.

Carlu Sadie scored the first try of the game as, once again, the visitors piled on the pressure at scrum time with the 21-year-old crossing the whitewash from the set piece.

The Lions made the most of their chances in opposition territory and would round off the first half with another 5-pointer.

After some slick hands from the back line, Warren Whiteley stabbed through a grubber kick that was latched onto by Aphiwe Dyanti who strolled in his side's second try of the encounter.

With a 20-0 scoreline heading into the second half, the Chiefs come out firing and had the Lions on the back foot for most of the half.

After 20 minutes of unrelenting pressure, the hosts finally crossed the line, with Wainui dotting down after some enterprising backline play.

One brought two as the Chiefs scored again two minutes later through Laulala, who finished a move that started inside his side’s 22-meter line.

Both conversion attempts were missed by Marty McKenzie as the hosts trailed 20-10 heading into the final quarter of the game.

He would get another chance in the final few minutes after Tumua Manu scored a third try for the hosts and he took it to set up a nervy ending.

With just over two minutes to go, Jantjies slotted a drop goal to take the score to 23-17 in favour of the Lions, with a gutsy defensive performance in the second half giving the Lions a hard-fought and memorable win on the road.