11 May 2014

Highlanders squeak home over Lions

11:08 am on 11 May 2014

The Highlanders scraped past the Lions in their Super Rugby match in Dunedin, holding on to win 23-22 after being up 23-0 at half-time on Saturday night.

Two tries from right winger Richard Buckman in the first half and one from his opposite wing, the replacement Gareth Evans, had the Highlanders ahead by the impressive 23-0 scoreline at the break, with first five eighth Hayden Parker converting one and also kicking a penalty and a drop kick.

The Lions hit back soon after the restart through halfback Francois de Klerk, the try converted by No.10 Marnitz Boshoff to make it 23-7.

The hosts lost a man to the sin-bin when prop Chris King led with the shoulder or elbow to the head of a Lions player, but the Lions couldn't capitalise until after the numbers were equalised, when centre Lionel Mapoe crossed out wide. Boshoff couldn't convert but the margin was down to 23-12.

And it became 23-17 when replacement hooker Armand van der Merwe ran down the blindside after a lineout.

From there the Highlanders, just back from South Africa, were up against it. Desperate defence from there on their own try-line kept the Lions out until the 78th minute, when right wing Courtnall Skosan finally crossed in the left corner.

Replacement kicker Elton Jantjies then had the match-winning conversion from near the sideline, and he missed despite the Highlanders encroaching before Jantjies could take the kick. The referee didn't call it though and the hosts scraped home.

King's been cited for punching or striking.