The Citizen (KZN)

Joburg Pride showing bite

- With Ross Roche

The Lions produced arguably their best performanc­e in the United Rugby Championsh­ip (URC) to date over the past weekend when they thrashed Connacht 38-14 in Galway, despite being down to 14-men for 64 minutes.

It was an incredible result, especially when considerin­g that no South African URC team had beaten Connacht in nine previous encounters at the Sportsgrou­nd, so to do it with a man less for over threequart­ers of the game was amazing.

The scoreline was also a huge surprise as you would expect a close and scrappy encounter after a team suffers an early red card, but the Lions instead threw caution to the wind and were rewarded by running in six tries to the two from the hosts.

The question now is if this incredible result will be able to propel them into the URC playoffs, or if it will be another false dawn.

Over the past two seasons the Lions have flattered to deceive, showing signs that they can mix it up with the best in the competitio­n, but then falling apart at crucial times.

In their first season in the competitio­n the Lions finished 12th on the 16-team log, and followed that up with a ninthplace finish last season. So they are yet to feature in the URC knockouts and that has now been a major goal of theirs over the past two seasons.

The Lions’ bonus point win over Connacht lifted them to eighth on the log, just five points behind Munster in fourth, but also just four points ahead of Ospreys in 11th.

With them facing the Welsh side in Swansea this coming weekend things could change drasticall­y if the Lions were to lose.

They have already lost to Ospreys this season, at home in the Challenge Cup in January, when they let an 11-point lead slip in the last eight minutes to go down 38-28 in the end.

They will need to avoid a similar performanc­e on Saturday and back up their win over Connacht with another strong performanc­e to prove that they really can reach their goal of making the competitio­n play-offs, and not end up falling short once again.

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