The Golden Lions made a statement with their 41-13 bonus-point victory against the Blue Bulls in Johannesburg on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
What a complete and impressive showing. The Lions bossed the battles at the scrum and breakdown, and used the resultant possession to great effect. Their flyhalf, Marnitz Boshoff, was in outstanding form with ball in hand and in front of goal.
The Lions played with plenty of pace and attacking intent, but unlike the Lions teams of old, they did brilliantly to convert the majority of their scoring chances.
The Bulls played their part with some woeful one-on-one tackling, but give the Lions their due. Their offloading in the tackle and angles of attack would have troubled a better side than the Bulls.
Boshoff's individual performance was significant. He varied his play between running and kicking, and even surprised with a drop-goal attempt, which was successful, in the first half. The Lions weren't as potent after Boshoff left the field in the 50th minute with an arm injury.
A combination of accurate kicking and devasting running saw the Lions taking a commanding 23-3 lead into half-time. The Bulls were always going to be hard pressed to come back.
The visitors started the second half well, scoring 10 unanswered points through a try by Sampie Mastriet and two successful goal kicks by Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Their defence was also better, as they managed to limit the Lions' attacking space.
Boshoff's replacement, Jaco van der Walt, kicked two penalty goals to ensure the Lions maintained a big lead at 29-13. With the result all but secured, they began to push for the four-try bonus point.
Another great offload in the tackle by Lionel Mapoe created a try for Jaco Kriel in the 65th minute. A lineout maul would prove the source of the Lions' fourth, with Warwick Tecklenburg dotting down in the final minute of the match.
The Lions showed why they will challenge for the Currie Cup title this season. The Bulls showed why they will be also-rans.
Golden Lions – Tries: Stokkies Hanekom, Ruan Combrink, Jaco Kriel, Warwick Tecklenburg. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2), Jaco van der Walt. Penalties: Boshoff (2), Van der Walt (2). Drop goal: Boshoff.
Blue Bulls – Try: Sampie Mastriet. Conversion: Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Potgieter (2).
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Ruan Combrink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Howard Mnisi.
Blue Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wiaan Liebenberg, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Jesse Kriel.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images