The Lions made another big statement with their historic win in Sydney, while the Stormers finished round 10 at the bottom of the South African conference, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Lions strengthened their position at the top of the South African conference standings. The 29-0 bonus-point win against the Waratahs has boosted them into a commanding 11 log-point lead over the next best South African side – the Bulls – after 10 rounds.
Syws de Bruin’s side made history when it beat the Waratahs in Sydney for the first time. The Lions also made the perfect start to their four-game tour of Australasia.
Perhaps a few of their South African counterparts would have expected the Lions to falter, and to lose a bit of ground in the standings, on the trip to the east. However, after witnessing what the Lions produced against the Australian conference leaders, one would expect the tourists to down the Reds next week and challenge the Hurricanes and Highlanders in New Zealand thereafter.
The Lions will have eight days to prepare for the next fixture in Brisbane. The Reds recently lost 36-12 to the Chiefs at home.
The Bulls made a statement of their own in Pretoria on Saturday. John Mitchell’s charges showed some enterprise in the 28-10 bonus-point win over the Rebels, one of the better Australian sides in this year’s tournament.
Whether they can replicate that performance and result against a New Zealand opponent is another story. The Bulls will host the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld next week. The Highlanders are coming off a 34-16 win against the Blues in Auckland.
The Sharks need the Highlanders to do them a favour in Pretoria next Saturday. Robert du Preez’s side beat the Stormers 24-17 in Durban to finish the round in third position on the South African conference log – just one point behind the Bulls. The Sharks will have a bye next week, though, and won’t have the opportunity to overtake the Bulls.
Meanwhile, the result at Kings Park saw the Stormers maintaining their losing streak away from home in 2018. Following the Jaguares’ win against the Brumbies on Sunday, the Stormers have dropped down to last place in the South African conference standings.
The Stormers will play the Rebels in Cape Town next week. They need to beat the men from Melbourne, and subsequently the Bulls, to have any chance of remaining in the playoff race.
Photo: David Neilson/photosport.nz