The Vodacom Bulls were made to work hard to claim a bonus-point victory over the Lions in a Currie Cup derby in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.
The 40-10 win has the Bulls closing the gap on the table-topping Cheetahs to just one point, while at the same time opening up a seven-point gap between themselves and the third-placed Sharks.
For the Lions, despite an improved performance compared to their season start, they were simply outgunned and outmuscled by the superior Bulls pack.
The home side actually had the better of the game for a good portion of the first half and could count themselves unlucky not to have taken an early lead. However, their good work was undone by a combination of handling errors, injuries and a yellow card to lock Lunga Ncube, who was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.
From there on, the Bulls were able to open up a 14-0 lead, thanks to a penalty try from a powerful five-metre scrum and a well-worked try by substitute James Verity-Amm.
The Bulls brought Morne Steyn on in the second half, the veteran making an almost immediate impact by scoring the third try for his team and converting for a 21-3 lead. To their credit, the Lions kept trying to claw their way back into the match and got a reward for their effort when Jurich Claasens scored their only try from a quick-tap penalty.
However, the Bulls wrapped up the bonus-point shortly afterward when Muller Uys broke from a ruck and scored, before Joe van Zyl and Cebo Dlamini added further gloss to the scoreline.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images