43 vs 05
The Lions bounced back their recent loss to the Hurricanes with a bonus-point 43-5 victory over the Blues in Johannesburg on Saturday.
It was a clinical and hungry showing from the Africa 2 Conference pace-setters, who scored seven tries in all through Warren Whiteley, Courtnall Skosan, Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe (3) and Warwick Tecklenburg.
The result leaves Johan Ackermann’s men six points clear of the Sharks, who face the Jaguares in Argentina in the final game of Round 12.
For the Blues this was a game to forget as they didn’t recover from a nightmare start, and they remain New Zealand’s basement franchise.
It was a strange first half in Johannesburg as all of the action came in the first ten minutes, with the Lions racing out of the blocks with three tries. The Blues, missing key players Rieko and Akira Ioane due to World Rugby Sevens Series commitments, looked shell-shocked.
Whiteley crashed over the try line with barely a minute on the clock when, after powerful carries from flanker Jaco Kriel and inside centre Van Rensburg, the number eight finished the score well. Unfortunately Jantjies was off-target with a disappointing attempt from the tee.
That did not fluster the fly-half as then came two moments of brilliance from the possible Springbok pivot next month. His first was a well weighted cross-kick out to Skosan on the left wing for the Lions’ second try, which he then converted superbly from near the touchline for 12-0.
He wasn’t done there as next came a lovely dink in the 22, over the top of the onrushing Blues defence, and Van Rensburg gathered for the bonus point. It was a barrage of pressure on the Blues which they could not have imagined as they trailed by 19 points so early in the game.
Oddly the rest of the opening half brought no further points, as both sides snubbed kickable shots in favour of going for tries. It was a smart move from the Lions, who wanted breathing space with their bonus point, while the Blues needed sevens, not threes, to move in touch.
Whatever Ackermann said to his troops clearly worked as they were back to scoring tries just seven minutes after the break when Mapoe hit a wonderful line off Skosan before sliding over in the unabating rain. With Jantjies’ extras, it was 26-0 with a try count of four to zero.
Despite the healthy advantage, the Lions continued their game-plan of kicking for the corner and once again were rewarded when Tecklenburg was at the back of a driving maul for their fifth try of the game. That led to one eye turning to next week’s clash against the Jaguares.
However, the hosts did not relent in their quest for more scores and got their wish when Mapoe crashed over again on 65 minutes before the Blues finally broke their duck nine minutes later, with replacement flanker Joe Edwards showing good pace to go over.
It was fitting though that the Lions and Mapoe had the final say as he wrapped up the one-way game by claiming his hat-trick, with the home side getting back to winning ways in style, leaving the Blues with a tough flight to Perth.
Tries: Whiteley, Skosan, Van Rensburg, Mapoe 3, Tecklenburg
Cons: Jantjies 4
Lions: 15 Jaco Van Der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Armand Van Der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques Van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf De Klerk, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 George Moala, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Hoani Matenga, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Sam Prattley
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Kara Pryor, 20 Joe Edwards, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Male Sau
Date: Saturday, May 14
Venue: Emirates Airlines Stadium, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper, Pro Legoete
TMO: Shaun Veldsman