Pace, altitude too much for visiting side

The Highlanders fought gamely but in the end fell short to the Lions. Photo: Getty Images
The Highlanders fought gamely but in the end fell short to the Lions. Photo: Getty Images
So close but in the end too far.

The Highlanders put in a good shift but came away with nothing in their match against the Lions in Johannesburg yesterday.

The side conceded a try in the final minute to lose 38-29 and emerged from a solid effort - where it scored five tries - with not even a bonus point.

The visiting side worked hard throughout the 80 minutes. But sloppy errors combined with the sapping altitude consigned the side to a loss.

The Lions are a good side - strong and powerful in most facets and do not pick up many losses at home.

The Highlanders gave as good as they got and both sides made errors at vital times.

The Highlanders felt the wrath of referee Rasta Rasivhenge a tad too often and that left the side struggling for territory for the bulk of the second half. You could argue about how good or bad Rasivhenge was but the Jaguares were whining last week when they lost to the Highlanders and nothing came from that.

Rasivhenge gave the Highlanders only three penalties, while dishing out 12 against the visitor, but it was not the reason the side lost.

Kicking for touch and backing its set piece was the route for the Lions towards victory and they did not offer much in the backline. The Highlanders forward pack was lively but it was relentless attack from the Lions at times.

The altitude and hectic pace of the game was tough for the Highlanders and that told with the accuracy of the ball handling letting the side down. Matt Faddes dropped the ball with the line open in the first half, while Sio Tomkinson also coughed up the ball at the end.

The men in green led 22-21 with a quarter of the game left but it was never going to be able to keep the Lions pointless with 20 minutes left.

The Lions came back with penalty followed by a try to replacement back Shaun Reynolds to give the side a 31-22 lead.

Josh Ioane scored a try for the Highlanders with just over five minutes remaining but they could not get any territory or continuity in the last few minutes. They then fell off a couple of tackles and Lions winger Courtnall Skason went over in the final act of the game.

Halfback Aaron Smith had a good game for the Highlanders while lock Tom Franklin and loose forward Luke Whitelock were busy.


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