Three tries in the space of 19 minutes were enough for the Down Touch Griffons to beat the MTN Golden Lions 30-19 (halftime 10-11) in their Vodacom Cup match at the North West Stadium in Welkom on Friday night.
Flyhalf Hansie Graaff was instrumental in the win as his 70th-minute drop goal was complemented by five successful kicks out of seven from the kicking tee, although tries from Shane Hancke, Vuyo Mboto and Japie Nel helped the home side to coast home after suffering an eight-point deficit in the first half.
The Lions simply had no answer to the onslaught, and slumped to their third successive defeat of the competition. The reverse sees them slip a place and a point below the Griffons into sixth, and with two games still to play this weekend in the Northern Section, there remains the possibility of being cut further adrift from the pace-setters.
Things had begun serenely for the Lions as flyhalf Marais Schimdt was on target with the first penalty of the game in the third minute. His counterpart Graaff then missed his chance to square the contest three minutes later and although Graaff redeemed himself in the ninth minute, Schmidt restored the lead six minutes later.
Schmidt missed the chance to stretch the lead with another penalty, but eighth-man Ruaan Lerm scored a fine try in the 32nd minute to put his team in control at 11-3. However, Schmidt missed the conversion, and it seemed to spark the Griffons into life. Left-wing Hancke made the crucial score on the stroke of halftime, and it meant the Lions took only a one-point lead into the break after their dominance.
It got worse, however, as the Griffons other winger Mboto crossed the whitewash just four minutes after the restart. A penalty from Schmidt then offered brief respite for the Lions, but the hosts hit back with another try in the 52nd minute courtesy of outside-centre Nel, and his side enjoyed significant daylight with a 13-point lead.
Substitute scrumhalf Vian van der Walt offered the visitors some hope three minutes later when he dotted down to pull the score back to 27-19, but Schmidt was again unsuccessful with the conversion, and a drop goal from his opposite number in the 70th minute all but sealed the Griffons second win of the campaign.
Down Touch Griffons – Tries: Shane Hancke, Vuyo Mboto, Japie Nel. Coversions: Hansie Graaff (3). Penalties: Hansie Graaff (2); Drop goal: Hansie Graaff
MTN Golden Lions – Tries: Ruaan Lerm, Vian van der Walt. Penalties: Marais Schmidt (3)