Bulls edge Lions in thriller
Lionel Cronje (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Lionel Cronje sounded his comeback from injury to step up as a substitute in his first game back and hit a sideline conversion after the hooter to give his Blue Bulls side a narrow 27-26 win over the Golden Lions at Wits on Friday night, SuperSport.com
Cronje, who was injured in the Vodacom Cup and has fought a long battle to recovery, put over the perfect kick at the right time to remind all and sundry that he is likely to play a big role in the Blue Bulls' Currie Cup campaign this year.
The kick came after a perfect crosskick on the hooter to winger Clayton Blommetjies, who seized the opportunity to win the ball and score.
In a game where the substitutes flowed - the Bulls changed eight players at once at one stage in the second half - it was tough to keep much structure, but both teams showed enough grit and fight to show they would be candidates when the Currie Cup starts in a week’s time.
The Lions especially, who will rue some poor handling errors at crucial times, showed great defence and were virtually their Super Rugby squad - a sign that they will be a force again when the Boks are missing from other teams.
But in this the Bulls had little to stand back for. Young turks such as Arno Botha, CJ Stander, Jurgen Visser and Ulrich Beyers all played well, while Francois Venter reveled in the opportunity to start a game again. For the Bulls fringe players this opportunity was taken with glee, and they will argue they could have won more comfortably had they taken a number of kickable penalties during the game.
While the Lions scored tries through Grant Janke, Lionel Mapoe, Kenny Okafuwe and Martin Bezuidenhout, their stars on the night included Mapoe, Elton Jantjies
, Franco van der Merwe
and Anthony Volminck.
The Bulls scored through Stander, Warwick Tecklenburg and Ruan Snyman with Blommetjies scoring the crucial try.