Photo Credit:Vodacom Bulls.
The Vodacom Bulls produced an impressive second-half performance to come from behind to beat the Lions 30-25 in Johannesburg.
The victory moved the Bulls go six points clear at the top of the Super Rugby Unlocked table, as Jake White’s side claimed their third win in a row.
However, it was less than straightforward as the Lions were able to take a deserved 15-10 lead into half time after the home side had the better of the set piece and territory in the first half.
The Bulls had come into the match in fantastic form, having claimed bonus-point victories over the Sharks and Stormers in their last two games in Pretoria.
Despite dominating parts of the game, the Lions will feel that they conceded far too many cheap penalties and especially struggled to cope with the Bulls’ driving maul, where they really lacked accuracy in their counter-shove.
The Lions pack made an early warning statement by winning a penalty off the first scrum, with Sadie and Sithole getting the better of their opposite numbers. The Bulls did manage to open up a 10-3 lead after Morne Steyn and Elton Jantjies traded penalties, when Joe van Zyl scored from the back of a driving maul.
However, from there the momentum shifted in the Lions’ favour as they started to see more of the ball and were able to get themselves into scoreable positions. A good period of pressure freed Burger Odendaal up on the wing and the inside centre slid over the tryline to level the scores against his former employers.
The hosts then took the lead when Morne van den Berg sniped over the tryline after a driving maul was collapsed, giving them a deserved 15-10 lead at the break.
Ultimately, the game was sealed when the Bulls were able to build pressure from another strong driving maul, with simple good hands freeing up Kurt-Lee Arendse to score out wide. Jantjies did convert a penalty after the full-time hooter to ensure that the Lions were able to take a losing bonus point from the match.
Lions – Tries: Burger Odendaal, Morne van den Berg, Wandisile Simelane. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies (2)
Bulls – Tries: Joe van Zyl, Stedman Gans, Kurt-Lee Arendse. Conversions: Morne Steyn (3). Penalties: Steyn (3).
Meanwhile the DHL Stormers finally looked like they had pitched for work after returning from lockdown as they scored a convincing 39-6 win over the Tafel Lager Griquas in their Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked match in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.
The Stormers scored six tries to nil and netted a bonus point to lift themselves strongly back into contention on the Unlocked log. The win and the margin of victory enabled them to leapfrog some of the other teams to move into second position on the table, behind the Bulls but ahead of the Sharks on points difference.