Pretoria - The Lions, in no mood to hand out
favours, nearly ruined the Bulls’ playoff aspirations, but the hosts hit
back in the second half at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday to book their
place in the Super Rugby knockout stages.
While the victory was
good enough to send the Bulls into the next round of the competition,
joining fellow South African sides the Stormers and the Sharks, the
Lions made them work hard for it.
Their five-point victory
cemented fifth place on the log and the Bulls face the difficult task of
travelling to Christchurch for a match against the Crusaders next week.
In taking full points from the match, the Bulls did the Sharks a favour by bunny-hopping ahead of them on the overall log.
Sharks will now - in what is regarded an easier prospect - play the
Reds in Brisbane, while the Stormers will have a bye next weekend by
virtue of finishing at the top of the table.
The Lions, who
finished bottom of the standings, drew first blood with a penalty
conversion by Elton Jantjies four minutes into the clash.
The home-side, however, equalled the scores when Morne Steyn succeeded with a penalty conversion 10 minutes later.
tide turned in the Bulls’ favour when winger Akona Ndungane intercepted
a floating pass from Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies to score the first
try of the evening after 16 minutes of play, with Steyn converting.
shortened the deficit eight minutes later with a penalty conversion,
but Bulls wing Bjorn Basson extended the lead after half an hour,
scoring his 10th try of the season.
Scrumhalf Francois Hougaard
made a run from a scrum in the Lions’ 22, pulled in two defenders and
offloaded to a speeding Basson, who scored under the posts, with Steyn
Lions scrumhalf Michael Bondesio hit back five
minutes later when he also picked the ball up from a scrum to break to
his right, dummy and score.
Jantjies converted to bring his side
within four points of the Bulls, while Steyn succeeded with a penalty
conversion with only two minutes left in the second half (20-13).
visitors’ dogged determination saw them cross the whitewash on the
half-time whistle, with a beardless Joshua Strauss scoring from a
driving maul after a successful lineout five metres from the line.
Jantjies converted to level the scores at 20-20 going into the break.
The Bulls hit their straps in the second period, adding two more tries to take the match away from the visitors.
scored the Bulls’ third try shortly after the restart with an
enterprising run from a ruck on the Lions’ 22-metre line, with Steyn
Five minutes later flanker Jacques Potgieter secured the bonus point with their fourth try.
Steyn converted and added another three points with a successful penalty attempt with 15 minutes left in the match.
The Bulls fended off a charging Lions team to keep the scores unchanged in the dying stages.Teams:Bulls:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona
Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain),
7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger,
4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Deon Stegmann, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis
Fouchè, 22 Francois VenterLions:
15 James Kamana, 14
Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthonie Volminck, 10
Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Grant
Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie
Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Jaco
Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 JR Esterhuizen, 22 Ruan Combrinck