Lions beat Kings 26-19 in first leg of Super Rugby promotion/relegation clash
Last Updated: 27/07/13 10:50am
Stokkies Hanekom: Ran in two tries for the Golden Lions
The Golden Lions took control of their Super Rugby promotion/relegation clash with the Southern Kings after winning 26-19 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Stokkies Hanekom ran in two tries and 16 points from the boot of Elton Jantjies gave the Lions a first-leg lead in the clash.
Marcello Sampson and substitute Steven Sykes scored tries for the Kings, with Demetri Catrakilis kicking three penalties in the bonus-point defeat.
Alan Solomons' side now have it all to do in the return leg in Johannesburg next weekend if they are to retain their Super Rugby status.
The first half was an evenly fought affair, with Jantjies slotting four penalties for the Lions and Catrakilis knocking over three for the Kings.
The hosts eventually cracked the visitors' defence with a well executed cross-field kick by fly-half Catrakilis after a five-metre line-out.
With Sampson standing wide on the left, the Kings fly-half's accurate kick landed in his hands and he dived over for the first try of the match to put his team back in the lead.
But just as the Kings were building up steam, Hanekom brought them crashing down, intercepting a pass inside his own half to race through to score under the posts.
The visitors led 19-14 at half-time and went further ahead when centre Hanekom crossed for his second try in the 66th minute, with Jantjies adding the conversion to make it 26-14.
But, shortly afterwards, Dylan des Fountain was sent to the sin bin and the Kings came storming back with replacement lock Sykes powering over.
Replacement George Whitehead missed the extras, but, in the end, it proved inconsequential because the Lions did an excellent job of holding the home side at bay late on.
The Kings took a bonus point from the game for ending within seven of the Lions, but it will be of little consolation as they now look ahead to a tough away fixture at Ellis Park next Saturday.
Super Rugby 2013 relegation play-off
The Lions narrowly held on to regain their Super Rugby status despite losing 23-18 to the Southern Kings at Ellis Park.
The Kings will be without three key players for Saturday's Super 15 relegation/promotion play-off second leg.
Alan Solomons admits the consequences will be dire if the Kings lose to the Lions in their Super Rugby play-off.