Marx Magic powers Lions into semi
Brenden Nel
July 21, 2018

The Emirates Lions kept South Africa’s hopes of a third consecutive Super Rugby final alive with a hard-fought 40-23 win over the Jaguares in their Vodacom Super Rugby quarterfinal match at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

Lions general Elton Jantjies kicked 20 points, but it was the man-mountain of Malcolm Marx who played a significant part in the game, standing tall in crucial moments to ensure his side marched on in the competition.

The Lions will now meet the Waratahs at the same venue next weekend and are within 80 minutes now of claiming their third consecutive final in as many years.

On the day, the Lions simply were more streetsmart, better on defence and got the turnovers when it mattered to power to victory.

Marx stood tall with no less than five turnover penalties in the game, many of them at crucial times to stunt the Jaguares' momentum and with his team’s power scrum dominating, also added an intercept try to play a key role in his team’s win.

He was ably abetted by Jantjies, who revelled in the good ball he received, while Cyle Brink was exceptional early on, and must have made Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus sit up and take notice.

The Jaguares toiled hard, mostly through the class of Nicolas Sanchez, Emiliano Boffelli and particularly captain Pablo Matera and the equally impressive Tomas Lezana, but they lost the key moments of the game, and with that a chance of an upset victory.

The Jaguares started off extremely well, with Nicolas Sanchez slotting them into the lead with two penalties, but then the Lions – riding home ground advantage and with the luck of the bounce of the ball – stormed back to take control and never looked back.

Three quick tries in the first half were enough to give them a significant advantage going into halftime and set them on the path to their third consecutive semifinal in the competition in three years.

The first came in the eighth minute with a penalty advantage as Jantjies employed the kick-pass cross field to Ruan Combrinck, barely clearing the hands of Matias Orlando for the winger to snap it up and run in for an easy try in the corner.


Then came the cruellest of bounces for Jaguares winger Bautista Delguy as Harold Vorster stabbed a ball through for Aphiwe Dyantyi, who toed it infield with a pack of chasing players. The ball bounced horribly for Delguy under the posts and instead of picking it up, he knocked it forward into Vorster’s hands for the try.

And then a massive blow – possibly the biggest of the game – came as scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou fielded a chip kick and beat the initial line of defence, looking to set up a dangerous counter.

Instead his pass found Marx, who bounded downfield with the grace of a charging rhino, leaving little chance for any defender to stop him. A crucial moment in the game, with the Jaguares heads hanging at 24-6 down.

Sanchez reduced the deficit to 24-9 by the break and the Argentinean side found some gas early on in the second, threatening to start a comeback that looked rather dangerous at times.

First it was Delguy who went in at the corner just after the break, and another sideline break with Jerome De la Fuente at the fore led to captain Pablo Matera bursting through the middle to score.

Suddenly the Lions' lead was gone and at 27-23 the comeback was an ominous sign for the Lions.

And when the Jaguares camped on the Lions' tryline shortly afterwards it seemed the momentum had swung again and they were getting stronger by the minute.

But then Marx entered and with a trademark turnover on his line, stopped the momentum in its tracks. The effect was so significant that the Lions marched upfield with Marnus Schoeman putting in a telling run, and moments later Andries Coetzee had slipped two tackles on the wing to run around and score.

A deft drop goal by Jantjies extended the lead to 37-23 as the Lions seized control again and started marching towards the semifinal.

Jantjies added a late penalty to seal the game for the home side and send them into the semifinal.


Emirates Lion – tries: Ruan Combrinck, Harold Vorster, Malcolm Marx, Andries Coetzee. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (3). Drop Goal: Jantjies.

Jaguares – tries: Bautista Delguy, Pablo Matera. Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez (2). Penalties: Sanchez (3)

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