Sensational Skosan sinks Reds
Emirates Lions winger Courtnal Skosan scored four tries as his side continued their unbeaten home run in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition, walloping a 14-man Reds side 44-14 on Saturday.
Skosan capped a magnificent performance for his side as they ran riot and underlined their pedigree as South African favourites in this year’s competition.
With the victory the Lions scored their eighth straight home win, extending their new record and condemning another Australian side to a painful loss in this year’s competition.
The Reds were reduced to 14 men when Quade Cooper was dispatched to the bin for a high tackle on Rohan Janse van Rensburg as the midfielder scored his try early in the second half. With a previous yellow card to winger Eto Nabuli, the visitors were down to 13 men at one stage.
Cooper’s high shot on Janse van Rensburg was irresponsible and ended the Reds' chances of ever getting back into the game.
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But while it was an easy red to give - as the tackle had both force and intent - the officiating team took a long time to give it, bringing questions of TMO referrals slowing down the game back into the spotlight.
At that stage the Lions were well in control anyway, leading 25-0 and never looked in doubt of being threatened by the opposition. The only question was just how big the victory would be.
And while it could have been worse had Elton Jantjies had his kicking boots on and the Reds not galvanised as a team in the last half hour, there has to be serious question marks about the strength of Australian rugby at this moment. Their conference looks by far to be the weakest of the four in the competition so far.
On an evening where the Lions dominated every facet of the play, coach Johan Ackermann will be happy to know the team put aside concerns about his job offer at Gloucester. And while they were far from perfect, making a number of handling errors in getting the win, the men from Johannesburg at least bounced back well from their defeat in Buenos Aires a week earlier.
But the Lions may have paid a big price for the victory, as replacement utility back Jaco van der Walt and prop Johannes Jonker were both stretchered off near the end of the game with the extent of their injuries still to be determined.
Skosan was first on the board after a blistering run in space by Janse van Rensburg, taking the gap at speed and then popping a beauty of an inside pass to the winger to open his account.
Jantjies added a penalty just after half an hour was up on the board, and the Lions completed their first half with a Jaco Kriel driving maul where they cleverly shifted the point of contact in the lineout to flummox the Reds.
Even though there were missed chances, including a missed try for Ruan Ackermann, they were always firmly in control.
The game was torn away from the Reds in three minutes of madness in the second half, first as the Lions surged ahead and Eto Nabuli infringed in the red zone, earning himself a yellow in the process.
With the advantage the Lions sent the ball to Janse van Rensburg, who was slammed by Cooper’s arm as he went over, prompting the red for Queensland’s serial offender.
From there it was only going to be one-way traffic and in fairness the numerical advantage was good enough for two of Skosan’s tries, as he ran in textbook overlaps with impressive ease.
Skosan’s third needs a special mention as the winger took a turnover ball and hoofed it downfield, chasing with precision to collect and score without a hand being laid upon him.
Inbetween Malcolm Marx added his name to the scoresheet as the carnage continued for the home team.
The Reds came back well, scoring twice near the end to add some respectability to the score, but they were never in the game. And they will hobble to their next assignment without Cooper, who is likely to cop a ban and with the Jaguares waiting for them in Buenos Aires.
The Lions though keep fulfilling their own promise and show that it will be difficult to bring them down when they get on a roll.
Emirates Lions – tries: Courtnal Skosan (4), Jaco Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Malcolm Marx. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2), Andries Coetzee. Penalties: Jantjies (1)
Queensland Reds - tries: Duncan Paia’aua, Taniela Tupou. Conversion: Jake McIntyre (2)