Lions fall short in Dunedin
Elton Jantjies missed a last-minute conversion to hand the Highlanders a 23-22 victory over the Lions in Dunedin on Saturday.
In what proved to be a ding-dong battle, it was one-way traffic in the first half as the Highlanders scored 23 unanswered points, including three tries, before the interval.
The second half was an entirely different story however as the Lions came roaring back with four tries of their own!
An incredible finish was tinged with controversy after the Lions were denied a try by the TMO right under the posts in the dying minutes as Vinny Munro could not find clear evidence that Rudi Mathee had touched the ball against the post padding.
Skosan scored the Lions' fourth try shortly afterwards but the conversion from out wide - as opposed to directly in front of the posts - proved too much for Jantjies.
The Lions had further reason to be upset as Jantjies could very well have been entitled to a second attempt as the Highlanders had charged early but referee Angus Gardner did not hesitate in blowing the final whistle.
Richard Buckman touched down twice and Gareth Evans added another in the first half as the Highlanders exploited some shaky defence from the men in red.
But a change in tactics saw the Lions take a far more direct approach after the break. Their execution was markedly better too as Faf de Klerk, Lionel Mapoe and Armand van der Merwe and Skosan all crossed the whitewash.
Inaccurate kicking ultimately cost the visitors as Marnitz Boshoff had uncharacteristically missed two previous conversions.
Tries: Buckman 2, Evans
Yellow card: King
Tries: De Klerk, Mapoe, Van der Merwe, Skosan
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Jason Emery, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Joe Wheeler, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Chris King.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Kane Hames, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Gareth Evans.
Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Rudi Mathee, 20 Warwick Teckenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 JW Jonker.
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)