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Cardiff pay for a slow start in Johannesburg

By PA
Lions head coach Ivan Rooyen (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Cardiff paid for a slow start as they suffered a 37-20 United Rugby Championship defeat to the Lions in Johannesburg.

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The hosts opened up a 24-6 lead in the opening 22 minutes at Emirates Airline Park, with Morne Van Den Berg touching down before Edwill Van Der Merwe crossed twice.

Pre-match expectations had been that Cardiff might wilt over the course of the 80 minutes due to their unfamiliarity with playing at such altitude, but the Welsh region grew into the encounter and closed the gap through Aled Summerhill and James Botham.

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Their progress was hindered by a yellow card shown to Kristian Dacey shortly after the hour mark and the Lions, for whom Jordan Hendrikse kicked 17 points, held on for just their third URC win of the season, with Vincent Tshituka delivering the bonus point at the death.

Jarrod Evans – making his 100th Cardiff appearance – contributed 10 points from the tee.

Hendrikse wasted no time in putting pressure on Cardiff as he landed a 50:22 in the opening minute which led to the game’s first try.

Burger Odendaal was brought down just short of the line from the resulting line-out, but Van Den Berg was on hand to finish the job from close range.

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Hendrikse converted and added a subsequent penalty, which was sandwiched between two three-pointers from Evans’ boot.

A second Lions try arrived when Van Der Merwe was sent diving over in the left corner after 14 minutes and he touched down again following neat build-up play eight minutes later, with Hendrikse adding the extras to both.

Cardiff had a Will Boyde try ruled out for obstruction but did get over in the 31st minute following some good running from Summerhill, and Evans split the posts to make it 24-13.

Hendrikse was off target with a penalty attempt in the last action of the first half and Cardiff made a fantastic start to the second, with the rampaging Botham touching down and Evans converting.

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The Lions moved 10 points clear through a pair of Hendrikse penalties before Dacey saw yellow for making contact with the head of Reinhard Nothnagel.

Cardiff survived their period of numerical disadvantage, but Tshituka made it a maximum haul of five points for the Lions with a last-gasp try converted by Hendrikse.

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