The Emirates Lions consolidated their position at the top of the South African Super Rugby group with a 56-20 victory over the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria.
The seven-try win over their Gauteng neighbours takes the Lions seven points clear of the Sharks at the Africa 2 summit and six clear of the Stormers in the South African group.
The result is also the Bulls’ first loss at home this season.
The score was 8-25 at the interval to the visitors. The half-time statistics were indicative of the Lions dominance as the Jo’burg team made 321 metres to the Bulls 101, had beaten 12 defenders to the Bulls zero and seemingly never let go of the ball as they had 74 percent of the possession.
Rohan Janse van Rensburg was incredible on the day. The number 12 had two tries, made three clean breaks and ran 108 metres with ball in hand.
The Lions showed their intentions early on in the game as they were the first team to open their scoring account with Marnitz Boshoff knocking over a penalty after Lappies Labuschagne was penalised at the breakdown. His penalty set the tone as the Lions kept their lead throughout the game. Boshoff played with a different style to his predecessor, the injured Elton Jantjies, as the fly-half tried to kick and turn the opposition early on before settling into a classically, Lions running game.
Bjorn Basson nearly scored from an interception for his team after a Lions pass went wayward but it was disallowed.
The Lions put the Bulls under intense pressure with some impressive running led by Janse van Rensburg and Lionel Mapoe. The first try of the game came through Janse van Rensburg but not without controversy as the Bulls crowd jeered that it was crossing. But referee Craig Joubert illustrated the rules very carefully for the opposition as he explained the Bulls fell for the dummy runner, and chased him, which allowed the inside centre to hit the gap and score the try.
Jesse Kriel replied immediately as the Lions’ kick-off went awry, which the outside centre capitalised on and burnt the cover defence to go over the whitewash and score his team’s first try.
After an incredible bit of team play the Lions unleashed Mapoe, whose work wasn’t done yet as he handed off a Bull before cantering in for the try with his trademark chicken celebration.
The Lions began to run away with it just before the end of the first-half as Julian Redelinghuys charged over. As the teams headed into the paddock, the Bulls looked fairly dejected and rightfully so.
Jaco Kriel then went over to further his side’s dominance over their opposition. But the Bulls weren’t done yet as captain Adriaan Strauss added a five pointer.
No less than five minutes afterwards Courtnall Skosan showed blistering pace to beat several defenders to score. The try came through a brilliantly executed switch from Sylvian Mahuza to give Skosan the break.
The Lions’ precision lasted till the very end as they scored again the 74th minute through Janse van Rensburg once more. That followed by a consolation Deon Stegmann try.
Tries: Kriel, Strauss, Stegmann
Tries: Van Rensburg 2, Mapoe, Redelinghuys, Kriel, Skosan, De Klerk
Con: Boshoff 6
Pen: Boshoff 3