Lions see red but down Dragons

rugby02 December 2023 17:50
By:Brenden Nel

A red card halfway through the first half couldn’t hamper the Emirates Lions as they powered to a 49-24 victory over Welsh side Dragons in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship match at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

Lock Ruben Schoeman was given his marching orders in the 25th minute, following an attempted charge-down of an up and under where he collided with Dragons fullback Ewan Rosser, knocking him to the ground and prompting referee Andrea Piardi to give the red because the contact was with Rosser’s head.

Piardi’s explanation was that Schoeman had braced himself in the charge down and that wasn’t allowed, perplexing all who had watched.

It seemed somewhat of a harsh decision, but Schoeman didn’t argue and accepted his fate, and his teammates responded in kind with a performance that would buoy them as they made it two wins in a row.

The Lions' ability to counter whatever Dragons threw at them, and use the counterattack to score points has been one of their strengths over the season, especially at home, and it was again on full display as they scored six tries to three despite having one man less on the field.

After the first two tries were scored against the run of play, the red card almost settled the Lions into a focused mode as they started to dominate and had more possession and territory in an entertaining game.

You have to feel a bit for the Dragons, they were full value and tried their best but were hopelessly outgunned when the Lions started running hard at them. Nevertheless, their three tries were a vast improvement after their loss in Durban last weekend.

They scored the opening try, totally against the run of play as Sanele Nohamba’s grubber rebounded off the Dragons defence and started a run of play which ended when Dragons flanker Harrison Keddie crashed over to open the scoring.

The Lions had some luck of their own as they intercepted a Dragons attack shortly afterwards, sending the ball wide to the wing where Quan Horn ran the defence ragged before offloading to Henco van Wyk to score.

Then came Schoeman’s red card and it was feared that it would take all the sting out of the Lions attack, but it did just the opposite, allowing them to use the power and pace on the outside to cause major headaches for the Dragons throughout the game.

The first response set the tone as Edwill van der Merwe started a move in his own half that led to Quan Horn scoring after the defence were ripped apart. A Sanele Nohamba penalty made it 18-10 at the break to the Lions.

After the break, the Lions scored early through Van der Merwe to extend their lead, but Dragons were just as industrious, taking the ball through a number of phases for Asthon Hewitt to score and keep them in the hunt.

Scrumhalf Morne van den Berg added his name to the scoresheet before Bradley Roberts hit back for the last time for the visitors.

The final word came from both Van der Merwe and Horn, who both added tries to give themselves a brace and leave the Lions all smiles as they recorded a massive win at home.

Nohamba kicked 19 points for another satisfying outing at 10.


Emirates Lions - Tries: Quan Horn (2), Edwill van der Merwe (2), Morne van den Berg, Henco van Wyk. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (5). Penalties: Nohamba (3)

Dragons - Tries: Harrison Keddle, Ashton Hewitt, Bradley Roberts. Conversions: Will Reed (3). Penalty: Reed.