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Lions hold on after Blues fightback

The Lions beat the Blues for the first time since 2006 despite a five-try second-half from the visitors to triumph 39-36 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

The Blues handed a first start to rugby league convert Benji Marshall at full-back and his late try gave the Auckland side hope of pulling off a stunning comeback after they had been blanked in the first period.

In the end they did not have enough time as Charlie Faumuina's 31st-minute yellow card proved costly.

At that stage the match was pointless but the Lions crossed over twice, through Faf de Klerk and Courtnall Skosan, while Faumuina sat out to give the Lions a 17-0 interval lead.

Charles Piutau, Bryn Hall, Frank Halai, George Moala and Marshall all crossed over as the Blues roared back after the break.

The Lions were able to always keep their noses ahead though as Marnitz Boshoff kicked over 17 of his 24 points after half-time with full-back Coenie van Wyk awarded a controversial try.

Faumuina was sent to the sin-bin for illegally collapsing down a maul close to the Blues line. The Lions made them pay as De Klerk dummied and went over before Skosan ran onto a Deon van Rensburg inside pass.

In between, Boshoff added a drop goal as the Lions went into the break 17-0 ahead.

Boshoff kicked another goal shortly after the re-start and the Blues task was made even harder when Tom Donnelly was sent to the sin-bin.

Chris Noakes finally kicked over the Blues' first points on 55 minutes and while Boshoff quickly replied the visitors began their unlikely comeback with two tries in three minutes.

Piutau scored the first and then set up the next for Hall when he gathered his own kick and off-loaded.

Noakes converted to suddenly reduce the margin to eight points, before the Lions appeared to be given a break by television match official Stuart Berry.

The TMO ruled that Van Rensberg knocked the ball backwards before Van Wyk dived on the loose ball to score a try Boshoff converted.

The Blues kept pushing though and Halai and Moala dived over for converted scores, either side of a Boshoff penalty, to make it 33-29 with eight minutes left.

Boshoff held his nerve to land a further two kicks, which proved decisive as Marshall beat a couple of men to score late on.


From Belfast Telegraph