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Van Rensburg at the double for lucky Lions

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/02/2017

Centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg scored a brace of tries as last year's beaten Super Rugby finalists the Lions began their new campaign with an unconvincing 28-25 victory over the Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium.

The Lions profited from a penalty try 12 minutes from time that turned the fixture in their favour, while five-eighth Elton Jantjies kicked three penalties and a conversion.

The Cheetahs relied on the boot of Fred Zeilinga as he landed six penalties and a conversion to go with a single try from Raymond Rhule.

The first half saw little in the way of try-scoring opportunities with the defences holding firm and the 50-50 passes to release runners not coming off.

The teams traded penalties and went into the break at 6-6, with the Lions a man short when halfback Faf de Klerk was sent to the sin-bin for playing the ball on the floor in a rare Cheetahs foray to their five-metre line.

The home side grabbed the initiative in the opening minute of the second half when the Lions coughed up the ball out wide and Rhule ran in unopposed to score, with Zeilinga adding the conversion.

When the latter added a penalty the Cheetahs held a 10-point lead but the Lions fought back as wing Lionel Mapoe made the break and fed Janse van Rensburg to score his first.

More penalties for both sides extended the home advantage to 22-16, before a pivotal moment in the game.

The Lions turned down three points from a penalty in favour of a kick to touch and, having claimed the line-out, drove towards the Cheetahs line.

The home side forced the maul to collapse and referee Quinton Immelman awarded a penalty try, handing a yellow card to Cheetahs replacement forward Francois Uys at the same time.

A Zeilinga penalty had the Lions ahead again with five minutes to go but the numerical advantage gave the visitors the space they needed out wide and Janse van Rensburg grabbed his second try in the corner.

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