Vodacom Super Rugby
Tucuman no match for Lions
Lionel Mapoe (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Three tries and a 19-3 lead after only 13 minutes tell the general story of the match between the Lions and the Argentine champions Tucuman at Coca-Cola Park on Wednesday night.
The Lions won 82-19 at a canter in a match that was never more than a training run.
The Lions led 47-9 at halftime with seven tries to their credit, and ended up scoring 12 tries against one.
It is a matter for conjecture whether this was the visitors' best side or whether the rugby standard in South America - and Argentine in particular - is below par, but for Lions coach John Mitchell the most he learned from the game was probably what his team didn't do right against scant opposition.
It was only in the scrums that the visitors were - initially - really competitive, although some poor lineouts by the Lions and also a few unnecessary turnovers helped the visitors to keep it from being an even bigger trashing.
Such sloppiness will undoubtedly be punished when the Super Rugby series starts in two weeks' time - but then, against a better side there would've been more focus and better finishing.
There was some incisive running though, and on the few occasions that they had to the Lions defended solidly.
There was also some good inter-switching in the running, and good straightening of the line - but also a few occasions where a step less and a quicker off-load would have brought dividends. The handling also wasn't always secure.
It didn't help matters the visitors' when Lisandro Ahvalli was yellow-carded for repeated negative play, and Mitchell brought on eigth replacements just before the start of the last quarter.
The fresh players started off at a speed, but then structure and handling let them down.
However, after 66 minutes the score already stood at 75-19 following a 62nd minute run-away try against the run by Tucuman's centre Francisca Granata.
Their other points came from four penalties and a conversion by Esequiel Faralle.
Good news for the Lions was the sharpness of flyhalf Elton Jantjie in his first match which included 18 points from nine (some easy) conversions with only one miss.
Lions: Tries: Dries van Schalkwyk (2), James Kamana, Josh Strauss (2), Michael Killian (2), Waylon Murray, Jano Vermaak, Derick Minnie, Doppies la Grange, Lionel Mapoe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (9), Burton Francis (2).
Tucuman: Try: Francisca Granata. Conversion: Esequiel Faralle Penalties : Faralle (4)