Johannesburg - The Bulls maintained their 100% win record at their second home, the Orlando Stadium, on Saturday with their B team registering a narrow 38-32 victory against the Lions to win the inaugural Gauteng Rugby Cup.
The Bulls started with a bang with two tries in the first 20 minutes, and with their attack on song and defence impermeable in the first 30 minutes, they appeared to be headed for a runaway victory.
The Lions, however, fought back strongly late in the second quarter after finding their rhythm, and with the team opting to pursue a more direct route after their attempts to spread the ball aimlessly failed, the rewards followed.
This resulted in a gripping clash for the few thousand fans at the stadium.
The Bulls showed their intent from the outset as centre Jan Serfontein scored a well-worked team try following a fumble by the Lions from a ruck to take a 5-0 lead in the second minute.
The Lions bounced back shortly after with former Bulls junior flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicking a drop goal two minutes later to put his new team on the board.
The Bulls’ smooth attack, however, paid off again in the 14th minute as fullback Jurgen Visser ran in behind the fleet-footed Sampie Mastriet to score the team’s second try.
Only minutes later Bulls centre Lionel Mapoe -- who is on loan from the Lions - was denied a try due to a forward pass, but his team-mate Grant Hattingh dived over the line in the second quarter following a classy pop pass by Serfontein for the team’s third to hand the Bulls a handy 19-3 lead.
With the chips down for the Lions, the team showed great character to close in on the Bulls in the second quarter by stringing together phases on attack and applying pressure, and after several unsuccessful attempts to work their way into the Bulls 22, their efforts finally played off with lock Franco Mostert using an overlap to cross the chalk after a long pass out wide.
This try bolstered their confidence significantly, as flank Jaco Kriel dodged attempted tackles by two defenders to dot the ball down for their second try following a good break on the wing to reduce the deficit.
Bulls’ flyhalf Tiaan Schoeman, however, slotted over a successful penalty in the dying minutes of the first half.
With the playing fields almost level both teams tightened up their defence in the second half, which resulted in a hard-fought affair.
In fact the Lions out-scored the Bulls two tries to one in the second half, with left wing Anthony Volmink scoring a fantastic individual try, while Kriel scored a consolation try from a free-kick in the last minute to match the Bulls’ four tries for the match.
But penalties by Tiaan Schoeman and Handre Pollard in the last quarter proved the difference on the scoreboard. Scores: Bulls Tries: Jan Serfontein, Jurgen Visser (x2), Grant Hattingh Lions Tries: Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel (x2), Anthony Volmink