Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - A three-try blitz in the first half of their Super Rugby clash handed the Brumbies a four-try 30-13 victory over the Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday evening.
As it happened: Lions v Brumbies
With the prospect of going atop the South African Conference looming large, the Lions never seemed to get a handle on the game.
The Brumbies in turn saw their grasp of the Australian top spot slip to the Waratahs earlier in the day, and were in rampant form in the opening stanza to take a 16-point going into the half-time break.
This was not entirely foreign territory for the Lions as they have made a habit of playing catch-up this season - and winning.
The hosts took an early lead through the boot of flyhalf Elton Jantjies slotting a penalty in the seventh minute.
Feeling confident at altitude, Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg took a stab at a 63m attempt at goal in the 11th minute, but his direction was off to the left.
A minute later Lions fullback Ruan Combrinck demonstrated how it should be done as he succeeded with his long-range shot to extend the lead to six points.
The Brumbies, however, soon made light work of the Lions’ advantage as they ran it three tries in eight minutes to put the home side under the cosh.
The Australian tourists took the ball through numerous phases before Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White gave the final pass from a ruck metres from the tryline to a charging Tevita Kuridrani for a try.
Flyhalf Christian Lealiifano missed the conversion, but he did not have to wait long before he had another chance.
Three minutes later the visitors struck from deep inside their half from a turnover as they shifted the ball through the hands and finding easy access past the Lions’ defences as eighthman Ita Vaea burst over with Lealiifano converting.
With the Lions clearly rattled the Brumbies continued to apply pressure which paid off once again as the hosts made a costly error inside their 22.
Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee threw a wild pass infield from a lineout and instead of finding Martin Muller, Lealiifano swooped in to cross the whitewash, and convert his own try.
Going into the half-time break the Lions had a mountain to climb but the Brumbies’ defence held strong under the pressure of the Lions’ new-found vigour.
The Johannesburg-based side finally found the breakthrough in the 65th minute taking the ball through a few phases before flank Jaco Kriel made the break to sprint through to score under the posts, with Jantjies converting.
With nine points separating the sides the Lions looked to finish with a flourish but their hopes waned as Brumbies flyer Joe Tomane scored in the left-hand corner with eight minutes left on the clock.
The hosts nevertheless demonstrated their never-say-die attitude as fullback Andries Coetzee scored with a minute to go, while Jaco van der Walt converted to reduce the deficit to 10 points.
The final minute of the match saw the Lions launch a final attack for the bonus point, but it proved fruitless.
The Brumbies picked up a full-house of five points for the victory to move back to the top of the Australian Conference and second in the Overall standings.
The Lions left empty-handed and stayed third and eighth in the South African Conference and Overall log, respectively.
In next weekend's Round 15 action, the Brumbies have a bye, while the Lions travel to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs (Saturday, May 23 at 17:05).
Tries: Andries Coetzee, Jaco Kriel
Conversions: Elton Jantjies, Jaco van der Walt
Penalties: Ruan Combrinck, Jantjies
Tries: Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Ita Vaea, Joe Tomane
Conversions: Lealiifano (2)
Penalties: Lealiifano, Jesse Mogg
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Harold Vorster, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Ruan Combrinck, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Robert Kruger, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Martin Muller, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. MB Lusaseni, 20. Warwick Tecklenburg, 21. Ross Cronje, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Howard Mnisi
15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Allan Alaalatoa
Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Robbie Coleman